The British composer, arranger and leader Graham Collier has a new web site that should win awards for design, thoroughness and easy navigation. The home page contains a link to a
thirteen-minute montage of music from nine of Collier’s eighteen albums over forty years. The montage is designed to be played while the visitor roams the site. It is a clever teaser, making the roamer want to hear more of Collier’s daring writing played by superb musicians, among them trumpeters Kenny Wheeler, Ted Curson, Tomasz Stanko and Harry Beckett; pianist John Taylor; saxophonist John Surman; drummer John Marshall; and Collier himself on bass. I have made no secret of my admiration for Collier’s work. From a review last year of his 1967 album Dark Blue Centre:
His writing for a pianoless seven-piece ensemble had economy, daring and just enough whimsy to prevent the music from perishing of an overdose of self-regard, the fate of so much avant garde jazz of the sixties.
The looseness and cogency in Collier’s arrangements are in ideal balance to contain the wildness, daring and–it must be emphasized–good humor of the soloists. There is no trace of the anger and willfull distortion that marred so much avant garde playing in the final decades of the twentieth century.
Hmm. Do we detect a theme? If you decide to explore Collier’s music, that new site is a good place to start. Be aware that the audio montage is a slow loader, even if you have a high-speed connection.