George Colligan: Come Together (2009)
New York-based pianist George Colligan has been prolific since his 1996 debut, Activism (Steeplechase Records), releasing nineteen CDs as a leader. He keeps it fresh with Come Together, a very energetic and modern-sounding piano trio affair.
The set opens with the title tune, written before Colligan was born (just barely, in 1969). Penned by John Lennonthe lesser jazz-covered songsmith of the Lennon/McCartney teamColligan and his trio-mates put some powerful and percussive funk into the tune, using hard edges and full blast momentum instead of the original, laidback fluidity tinged with weariness version by The Beatles.
On "Venom," one of eight Colligan originalsthe pianist pushes the energy level up to the rafters. His approach can be as intense as that of The Bad Plus or Vijay Iyer, but equally, he can also display a wistful and tender side, as on "So Sad I Had to Laugh," drifting in the direction of Bill Evans territory.
Johnny Mandel's familiar "The Shadow of Your Smile" gets a jaunty turn, with Colligan showing off a delicate touch in front of Boris Kozlov's bouncing bass lines and drummer Donald Edwards' soft shuffle.
"Have No Fear" moves straight ahead with chip-on-the-shoulder attitude and a bit of a swagger, while "Open Your Heart" finds the pianist exploring lusher ground with an introspective frame of mind, as bassist Kozlov gets a chance to show his chops. "Lift," with its rollicking rock rhythm and dark feeling, features a more percussive Colligan while still retaining a succinct, hard-driving prettiness in his playing, with Koslov injecting some electric funk.
Come Together is a fine, forward-leaning piano trio set that should ratchet George Colligan's profile up another notch or three.
Track Listing: Come Together; Venom; Have No Fear; So Sad I Had to Laugh; Reaction; The Shadow of Your Smile; Lift; Open Your Heart; To The Wall; Uncharted Territory.
Personnel: George Colligan: piano; Boris Kozlov: bass; Donald Edwards: drums.