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December 1999

George Colligan Trio
Stomping Ground
SteepleChase

Somebody find this guy a high profile gig! An unassuming, scholarly appearing pianist, George Colligan is one of the more promising, if unrecognized, young artists playing his instrument today. And he exhibits a good sense of programming, offering a menu of pieces, several of which are familiar though given fresh coats of paint, which is rewarding in its divergence and prescient in the sources Colligan selects from. Take Billy Harper's "The Priestess" as case in point. When have you ever heard the tenorman's stately piece done as a piano trio feature? Billy Hart's "Duchess" is yet another wise choice, one where Colligan elicits the fire and exhibits an attractive harmonic zest for expression.

Where others of his peers might be given to headlong thrusts of power displays, going for the gusto with each and every piece, Colligan shows he can also play it pretty, understated, and unhurried, allowing the music to breathe as he does on the familiar Cahn-Styne vehicle "I Fall in Love Too Easily." His trio mates are bassist Drew Gress and drummer Billy Hart and their level of support as a unit is part of the attractiveness of this date. Witness how they do "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life" in a free vein, like a tone poem, with Hart layering the time. The arrangement is perfect for the flexible Hart, whose time mirrors the Muhammad Ali watchword: "float like a butterfly; sting like a bee."

Originally published in December 1999
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