By Carlo Wolff | Published July 2017
Pianist George Colligan unleashes an eclectic collection of original compositions with the swaggering More Powerful. Three of the nine tunes reference Star Wars, including the title track. The opener, “Whiffe Ball,” conjures the pianist’s childhood games, others attest to the stillness of the Arizona desert, and the album ends with “The Nash,” Colligan’s peppery nod to a favorite Phoenix jazz club.
Alternating trio and quartet selections, the album bridges the prickly and the pretty, keeping listeners on their toes and demanding their engagement. Take “The Nash.” Like “Whiffle Ball,” it’s a breakneck, rhythmically startling tune. It launches with Nicole Glover’s soprano saxophone, braiding bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer Rudy Royston into the mix before Colligan takes off fast. His solo is percussive and rhythmic, his bright tone reflected in Royston’s flashy beats.
Colligan, who has been a sideman with artists including Jack DeJohnette, Vanessa Rubin and Don Byron, is comfortable in numerous modes, from the frenetic to the pastoral. His own style is hard to classify and impossible to ignore, making More Powerful essential listening.
More Powerful: Whiffle Ball; Waterfall Dreams; Effortless; Today Again; More Powerful Than You Could Possibly Imagine; Retrograde Pluto; Soutwestern Silence; Empty; The Nash. (54:23)
Personnel: George Colligan, piano; Nicole Glover, tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone; Linda May Han Oh, bass; Rudy Royston, drums.