Songs For My Father
01. Song One (Seven-Four)
02. Song Two (Ballad)
03. Song Three (Nine-Eight Blues)
04. Song Four (Waltz In Four-Four)
05. Song Five (Rubato)
06. Song Six (Dirge)
07. Song Seven (Four-Four Figured)
Bass – Graham Collier
Drums – John Webb
Guitar – Phillip Lee (tracks: A1, B4)
Piano – John Taylor
Tenor Saxophone – Alan Skidmore (tracks: A1, B2, B4), Tony Roberts (tracks: A1, B2, B4)
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Bob Sydor
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Alan Wakeman
Trombone – Derek Wadsworth (tracks: A1, A2, A3, B4)
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Harry Beckett
Collier, Graham [James Graham Collier], composer, educator, b. Tynemouth, Northumberland, England, 21 February 1937. Collier began his musical career playing trumpet in bands in the south of England, later taking up the double bass. On leaving school he joined the British Army as a musician, spending three years in Hong Kong. He subsequently won a down beat magazine scholarship to the Berklee School of Music in Boston, studying with Herb Pomeroy and becoming its first British graduate in 1963. He worked for a while in the USA, playing bass in the ghost version of the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.
From 1964 he led his own band (Graham Collier Music) in the UK, largely performing his own music. Amongst Collier's sidemen have been many outstanding British musicians including James Allsopp, Iain Ballamy, Harry Beckett, Geoff Castle, Andy Cleynbert, Roger Dean, Mike Gibbs, Mick Hutton, Pete Hurt, Karl Jenkins, Mark Lockheart, Henry Lowther, John Marshall, Oren Marshall, Dick Pearce, Alan Skidmore, Ed Speight, Stan Sulzmann, John Surman, Art Themen, Derek Wadsworth, Alan Wakeman, Geoff Warren, Steve Waterman, Kenny Wheeler and others. Varying the size and format of his bands, Collier encouraged new concepts and young musicians, establishing the orchestral base from which Loose Tubes sprang. This multifaceted orchestra was to produce such talents as Julian Arguelles, Django Bates and Eddie Parker.
Collier was the first recipient of an Arts Council bursary for jazz composition, and has been commissioned by festivals, big bands and broadcasters across Europe, North America, Canada, Australia and the Far East. The international bands Collier has assembled for various special projects around the world have boasted the likes of Johanni Aaltonen, Ted Curson, Hugh Fraser, Palle Mikkelborg, Karlheinz Miklin, Terje Rypdal, Ed Sarath, Manfred Schoof, Tomasz Stanko and Eje Thelin. He has written for ensembles ranging from wind quartets to symphony orchestras. Over a career spanning more than thirty years, his list of compositions and commissions has grown to encompass ensembles and arts bodies around the world.
His latest group is the ad hoc big band The Jazz Ensemble, featuring a roster of regular collaborators, guests from Europe and America, and up-and-coming stars of the English jazz scene. He has also worked in a wide range of other media: on stage plays and musicals, on documentary and fiction film, and on a variety of radio drama productions, including a highly-praised version of Josef Skvorecky's novella, The Bass Saxophone , which won a Sony Radio Award, and an adaptation of Malcolm Lowry's novel, Under the Volcano.
His recorded output includes 17 albums under his own name, including Winter Oranges with the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra. All his earlier LPs are now available for digital download, and two highly praised archive recordings, Workpoints and Hoarded Dreams, have recently been issued by the American label Cuneiform.
He is equally well-known as an author and educator, having written seven books on jazz, jazz history, compositional technique and education - the latest of which, Interaction, Opening Up the Jazz Ensemble, a book and CD package was published in 1995 by Advance Music. In the early 1980s, he developed the six-year jazz degree course still running at the Sibelius Institute in Helsinki, Finland. In 1989, he launched the Royal Academy of Music's jazz course; the course's first graduates got their degrees in 1989. He remained artistic director of the course for ten years, until resigning in 1999 to concentrate on his own music. He has also taught seminars, lectures and workshops throughout Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. He was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in 1987 for his services to jazz.
In 1989, he was among the group of international jazz educators who formed the International Association of Schools of Jazz. He was Secretary of the IASJ's Daily Board for nine years, and in 1994 his Winston Churchill Fellowship report on "Jazz Education in America" initiated the IASJ journal, Jazz Changes, which he co-edited.
He left his full-time post as artistic director of the jazz course at the Royal Academy in 1999 to concentrate on composition. He currently lives in the mountains of Andalucia, southern Spain, where he continues to compose, travelling from there to present concerts and workshops around the world. He has recently completed 'his life's work', The Jazz Composer, moving music off the paper, a philosophical look at jazz and jazz composition, which will be published in 2009.
After the superb Down Another Road, some of the protagonists had now flown the nest and are busy building their own Nucleus and Collier named his project as Graham Collier Music, since it varied too much to make a change every time it did. Actually, there is hardly anyone from the previous sextet present on the songs, but the list of participants remains quite impressive anyway. Indeed the front artwork mentions guitarist Phil Lee and tenor saxman Alan Skidmore, but they’re present only on two tracks and also for Wadsworth, only present on a different two. Some seven songs (they’re numbered 1 to 7) all tied-up, some with irregular beats and tricky time sigs, something that might have been probably unappreciated by his own dad (I wouldn’t know for his, but I know mine would’ve hated them).
The opening Seven-Four song is a great upbeat tune, taking Down much from Another previous Road, but installing a little added value (guitar), with Taylor’s piano playing wonder, while the following Ballad takes the same riff (or so it seems), but slowed-down. After that Ballad glided effortlessly into the upbeat piano-lead Nine-Eight Blues (probably my least fave of the album, but it’s still quite excellent), where Beckett’s trumpets-up a storm over a difficult beat and everyone follows suit (so it seems), effortlessly.
The flipside opens on a Waltz In Four-Four, a weird un-danceable thing that breaks apart after some 30 seconds to kick-starts itself later in a rapid upbeat vehicle, racing down the school street at 100 MPH. Insane stuff, really; but it’s a bit too bad for the drum solo (not my thing), even if short. The waltz segues in Rubato, but somehow the themes are succeeding with out changing much apart from veering dissonant in the improvisation and dying off slow. Dirge actually takes from there and gradually (read slowly) crescendoes with Beckett’s trumpet and, later, Wakeman’s sax grow from intense to glowingly red with Webb’s interesting drumming, much reminiscent of John Marshall. The closing 4/4 Figured takes over with Taylor’s piano before Dirge has a time to reach mid-tempo, but despite the added reinforcement troops, it fails to recapture the outstanding spirit of the opening track, as Phil Lee’s guitar is too discrete for my tastes. Still quite worthy an ending, though.
Collier’s third (fourth) solo album is another cool touchdown scored on a local scene that was won-over by the first two beauties achieved earlier. Collier is the confirmation that a contrabassist (after the immense Mingus) could make awesome composers, while never abusing of their instrument’s presence in the final results. While SFMF might lack the absolute genius of Darius or its preceding Another Road, it’s still quite a must-hear in post-bop jazz.