Track of the day: Up Jumped Spring

From Live in Arklow a new trio album to be released on the Ubuntu label from the American pianist George Colligan, best known for his work with Jack DeJohnette, in-demand Irish bassist David Redmond and the Madeleine Peyroux and Brandon Flowers …

Published: 14 Mar 2020. Updated: 8 months.

From Live in Arklow a new trio album to be released on the Ubuntu label from the American pianist George Colligan, best known for his work with Jack DeJohnette, in-demand Irish bassist David Redmond and the Madeleine Peyroux and Brandon Flowers drummer from Northern Ireland, Darren Beckett.

To gauge what the trio have done to the revered Freddie Hubbard composition go back to Three Blind Mice the 1962 Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers album and listen first. Obviously that begins with a drum solo the tune arranged for a bigger band Hubbard himself taking the melody lead on trumpet with Cedar Walton quietly accompanying on piano before you hear trombonist Curtis Fuller contributing behind and Jymie Merritt's bass starting to figure while you have to wait until Hubbard finishes for Wayne Shorter on tenor sax to solo as applause for Hubbard rings out.

On the Colligan version the tune begins with a brief piano solo and then unaccompanied he solos on the melody with Beckett entering on brushes and Redmond circling in on the tonality of the piece. When Colligan goes up into the higher octave eerie of the piano towards the end of stating the melody he shows his considerable panoramic vision before the improvisation then steers away from the melody. By using the tactic of paraphrase it keeps the melody still in the listener's rear view mirror and so then when he detours later that aide memoire is always there like a familiar face even when a disguise is rendered by the harmonies. Beckett as the tune progresses becomes more spang-a-lang and thankfully louder and there is a great engagement here, Redmond very firm. Colligan really swings hard.

Live in Arklow was recorded during the 2018 Bray Jazz Festival in Arklow's Methodist church and like the Blakey long before, comes complete with applause. More on the album, the signs are good, when it comes out next month.

George Colligan pictured, top. Photo: via Ubuntu.

Tags:

Robin McKelle, Alterations, Doxie Records

A bit disappointing this far flung over-nice female singer-themed album turns out. Packed full of songs that are too familiar it would take considerable genius to reinvent even one of them let along all. That isn’t on the menu. To be fair Robin …

Published: 14 Mar 2020. Updated: 8 months.

Next post

A bit disappointing this far flung over-nice female singer-themed album turns out.

Packed full of songs that are too familiar it would take considerable genius to reinvent even one of them let along all. That isn’t on the menu. To be fair Robin McKelle gives it a good go. With her are pianist and arranger Shedrick Mitchell, heard by marlbank live with Keyon Harrold during the London Jazz Festival; bassist Richie Goods; drummer Charles Haynes; and guitarist Nir Felder (again in the Harrold band that night at Ronnie’s). Abdullah Ibrahim saxophonist Keith Loftis is on McKelle original ‘Head High’ and trumpeter Marquis Hill is on Lana Del Rey’s 'Born to Die'.

I wasn’t taken much by the nonetheless accomplished treatment of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ or Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’. But ‘Head High’ is far better and I wish there were more originals on the album because this of more jazz interest and fresh, but the angle here overall on Alterations is aiming not at jazz fans but at a mass market. Mitchell’s accompaniment on this McKelle song is engaged and bright. ‘You’ve Changed’ is certainly a world away from Billie Holiday’s version but gets lost in the update when all the rough edges are smoothed off.

McKelle's voice redeems most of the so-so song choices. Hers is a sweeping soul-soaked instrument reminiscent of a cross between Susan Tedeschi’s and that of Ronnie Scott's soul singer Natalie Williams. I skipped on to Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ that McKelle seems to warm to more and where she delivers a Janis Joplin-like flourish. Against the odds this works. As for Joni’s ‘River’ it’s OK and Sade’s ‘No Ordinary Love’ started off with a bass introduction is again perfectly nice. ‘Mercedes Benz’ occupies territory McKelle is a lot more comfortable with and if all the songs revolved around this gutsier axis like some of her previous work with the Flytones then it would be a lot better. Carole King’s 'You’ve Got a Friend' again returns to default pleasantness. SG Rating: 3 stars.