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Deep Dark Blue Centre

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Album Review

A fine bassist and one of the most important British jazz composers and arrangers, Graham Collier boasts a discography the envy of many of his contemporaries. This critically acclaimed album features a young Kenny Wheeler, and Harry Beckett on alternate tracks, with others from the vibrant British scene of the late 1960s. While the voicings are somewhat conservative, and the reissue reprints the original liners (in tiny, almost unreadable text) with new commentary by Collier and excerpts from contemporaneous reviews, it is the strength of the writing that carries the most weight. Collier's influences have been tied to Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, and even Miles Davis, and this unlikely combination is clearly evident in his concepts: There are contrapuntal lines, complex rhythms tempered by a gentleness and glazed by simultaneous improvisations. Although the CD reissue does not add any so-called "bonus" tracks, the substantial nature of the music amply rewards the adventurous listener. The strong personalities of the soloists ensure individuality, while the juxtaposition of the flute, guitar, and trumpet lend a light air to some of the tracks. Collier's wonderfully diverse compositions are waiting to be discovered by a new generation, as his timeless, carefully crafted structures are charmingly alluring. Although this is not in any sense earth-shattering, or even groundbreaking, it is albums such as this one upon which Collier's reputation stands, and this satisfying release is a wonderful addition to his oeuvre.

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