Jazz CD Reviews

George Colligan – Runaway – Sunnyside

A fine recording from one of the very best of the younger jazz pianists.

Published on September 8, 2008

George Colligan – Runaway – Sunnyside
George Colligan – Runaway – Sunnyside SSC 1197, 68:15 ****1/2

(George Colligan – piano, Fender Rhodes, trumpet, synthesizers; Josh Ginsburg – acoustic bass, electric bass; E. J. Strickland – drums; plus guests Tom Guarna – guitars and Kerry Politzer – voice, piano)

George Colligan is among the most versatile jazzmen alive.  Proficient on piano, Rhodes, a variety of synthesizers, organ (check out his Mad Science discs), and trumpet (!), conversant with straight ahead jazz, funk, hard bop, post bop, free bop, and Latin jazz – he can do it all.  Perhaps that’s not so unusual for 21st century jazzers, but what separates Colligan from your run-of-the-mill practitioner is his ease and naturalness, as well as his absolute control, in these varied sub-genres.

A program as diverse as Runaway will typically come off sounding scattered.  But Colligan’s genius is that he makes it all sound complete effortless whether deftly reworking and updating standards “R U Things the All?”, blithely conjuring contemporary groove-driven ditties, “The Righteous,” complete with tasty synths and Tom Guarna’s power-pop/jazz guitar stylings, magically confecting instant classics, “When I Go,” featuring the glorious singing of Kerry Politzer, and “Waltz of All the Things We Meant To Do and Never Did,” whipping up lilting Latin numbers, “Be Gentle,” with its striking solos by Colligan on Rhodes and Guarna on classical guitar, the charming/wistful “Forlorning,” and “Innocent Youth” showcasing the leader’s Tom Harrell-like trumpet, channeling the spirit of Monk with the angular “Skeletons in the Closet,” or, finally, crafting Tyner-esque anthems, “Runaway.”

It’s good to see Colligan on Sunnyside, a label known for artistic integrity, clarity of sound, and presenting its musicians in optimal settings.  Very highly recommended.

TrackList: End of a Dynasty, The Righteous, When I Go, R U Things the All, Be Gentle, Skeletons in the Closet, Forlorning, Ghostland, Waltz for All the Things We Meant To Do and Never Did, Innocent Youth, Runaway

- Jan P. Dennis
 




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