Graham Collier — Workpoints
(Cuneiform Rune 213/214, 1975/2005, 2CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2006-05-01
Keith Tippett and ian Carr may be better known, but they were far from the only active jazz practitioners in Britain in the late 60s and early 70s. Bassist Graham Collier was another part of this fertile scene, and these two live recordings should raise his profile a bit, as his other works are hard to come by. The 1969 set, which contains the suite that lends its name to the whole album, features the Graham Collier Dozen, three each of trumpets, saxes, and trombones, with a rhythm section of bass, drums and vibes – too many players for me to really give credit where it’s due, but I will single out drummer John Marshall, whose busy rhythms set the tone for the set. The compositions are fairly loosely defined, with themes and riffs interpreted freely, organically flowing and giving the participants room to, er, blow their own horns. But in spite of the size of the ensemble, it’s not out-and-out chaos. I suppose there must be a continuum of structure, from parts that are more or less completely written to parts that are completely improvised, and it’s testament to both Collier and the players that there’s so much blurring.
The 1975 set features a sextet, for a much more compact sound, and guitarist Ed Speight adds a very different tone to the proceedings, as does the occasional use of electric piano. Still, it’s far from anything like “fusion,” and the trumpet and sax dominate. Collier’s own playing acts as anchoring support, and he doesn’t hog the spotlight. The sound quality on both dates is acceptable considering their vintage, though not pristine by today’s standards; the recording is certainly tolerable given the excellence of the playing.
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Cabezas de Cera and Jack o' the Clock, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more
Acoustic Festival of Britain 2017 Announces Eclectic Lineup – The Acoustic Festival of Britain has been going since 2006, and this year's event sees a number of outstanding artists on the bill. Fairport Convention, Tir na nOg, and Martin Turner are some of the artists we've covered, and there are many more, including The Men They Couldn't Hang, Howard Jones, Chantel McGregor, and many more. The festival runs June 2-4, 2017 at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire. » Read more