GRAHAM COLLIER — Down Another Road (review)

GRAHAM COLLIER — Down Another Road album cover Album · 1969 · Progressive Big Band Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Sean Trane
Well after having chanced upon that DDBC album of Collier and fallen under its charm, yours truly just had to go out and find more of the same, and luckily enough I found Collier’s second album. I instantly pounced on it after seeing that not only were present Jenkins and Marshall, there was also a future Tippett-gang member (and King Crimson alumni) Nick Evans. Although DAR didn’t carry such an emblematic and stylised artwork as its predecessor DDBC, its own orange & black cover had a hypnotizing quality that allowed the music’s magic to operate its charms.

Opening on the 5-mins title track with a solid Nucleus-like drum (Marshall, of course) and some typical Evans trombone and Beckett flugelhorn, and later Sulzmann tenor sax, the track holds an hypnotising rhythm held by Marshall and Collier, but also Jenkins’ piano. The 17-mins Danish Blue starts up on some light dissonance in its intro, but once the track enters its main body, the sea is much calmer, despite Marshall’s intense drumming. The track takes its time to develop its themes and takes a few meanders for out happiness, allowing for some delightful soloing from the horn players.

The flipside opens on a stupendous exchange between Evans’ trombone and Jenkins’ oboe over a low-tempo and delicate Marshall percussions. The much faster paced Aberdeen Angus was probably written thinking of a good beefsteak after a wild hunt in a field, and Marshall fires bullets on all drums, including a wild solo, which tends to last a tad too long for its own good, but once Jenkins re-enters on the piano for the finale, you realize just how good a drummer John is. The Lonely Child Lullaby is by definition a slow-paced affair, one where Sulzmann’s tenor takes an over-sweet flavour, but the whole track is a bit of a 50’s cliché. The closing 8-mins Molewrench is the band’s last bravery stunt, with an amazing oboe over a delicate (at first anyway) Collier-Marshall mid-tempo beat and gradually crescendoing, especially once the trombone enters the debate and ending the album in a stupendous finale, letting you wish for more.

Definitely one of my top 10 English pure-jazz albums (that means Nucleus is not qualified) and is a must-hear for anyone searching seldom-heard unearthed gems. Indeed in this regard the (now-defunct) label Disconforme were often very-well inspired in a rockier reissue front, but also managed a few more lost UK-jazz classics like Collier or Winstone albums. Run for it, while it’s still available or accessibly-priced on the used market.

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