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Album Review

Two valuable if obscure dates led by British bassist-composer Graham Collier are issued for the first time on this double CD. Collier leads a 12-piece jazz orchestra in 1968 that includes trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Harry Beckett, baritonist John Surman, and trombonist Mike Gibbs as the biggest names, although some of the lesser-known players are also well featured. The music is adventurous and swinging in its own fashion, but also influenced by the avant-garde and looking towards the even freer British jazz of the 1970s. The second disc, "Live in Middleheim," is from 1975 and has Collier leading a sextet that includes Beckett and tenor saxophonist Art Themen with a four-piece rhythm section. The use of electric piano and some of the grooves hint strongly at early fusion such as that being done by Miles Davis circa 1969. Although this music has its moments of interest, it often rambles on too long, making the first disc (which has a wider variety of soloists) the more satisfying of the set.


Born: February 21, 1937 in Tynemouth, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

English composer Graham Collier was the first British student to graduate from the Berklee College of Music. Collier won a scholarship in 1961, after playing more than seven years in an army band. He toured briefly in 1963 with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra playing bass, then returned to England where he formed the Graham Collier Ensemble. Through the '60s, '70s, and '80s, this group contained many of Britain's finest musicians, gathered to play Collier's original compositions. It varied in size and...
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