CD review

The George Colligan Trio – “Live in Arklow”

The George Colligan Trio – Live in Arklow
(ubuntu music UBU0055. CD Review by Jon Carvell)

To the uninitiated, Arklow Methodist Church in County Wicklow might not seem the obvious place to look for top contemporary jazz, but there is much to be impressed by in this live recording of American pianist George Colligan’s new trio.
Known for his work alongside artists such as Jack DeJohnette and Ravi Coltrane, Colligan offers further proof here that he can mix it with the best as a leader in his own right. He is joined for this 2018 Bray Jazz Festival ‘On the Road’ set by two Irish jazzers, Darren Beckett on drums – a long-time collaborator with Colligan – and bassist David Redmond.

Despite its small-town setting, the album feels like we’re eavesdropping on a session that wouldn’t be out of place in any of the most happening clubs around the world. Freddie Hubbard’s classic Up Jumped Spring opens proceedings with crackle and class, whilst What Is This Thing Called Love turns the clock to 3am – Redmond’s deeply felt bass solo here the musical equivalent of a strong Old Fashioned.

Colligan himself describes the gig as “a magical night in a magical venue with a magical piano… Sometimes, all the parameters are just right”. And it’s hard to disagree with him when listening to the breakneck roast of his composition Usain, in which the piano solo is just one highlight within eight minutes of searing bebop.

Two more of Colligan’s charts lend balance to the disc, with Lost On Fourth Avenue delivering plentiful groove and Again With Attitude swinging authentically. Carlos Lyra’s The Influence Of Jazz is given requisite rhythmical fluidity and playfulness, and somehow bridges the 5,000 miles between Rio de Janeiro and the east coast of Ireland.

In each chart, Colligan, Beckett and Redmond play without constraint, inhabiting the music and diving in with full commitment. It’s a great gig to have caught on tape, and a reminder of what we’re missing whilst we wait for live jazz to start percolating across the world once again.

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