George Colligan: Runaway

As he has demonstrated repeatedly in bands led by people like Buster Williams and Ravi Coltrane, George Colligan has the chops and versatility to be a very solid sideman. But taking full responsibility for a project as a leader is a different assignment. Runaway is an undistinguished miscellany.

Colligan composed all 11 pieces here. They are competent, not especially memorable, and mostly quickly categorizable. “Ghostland,” a nice acoustic number with thunderous chords and clanging tremolos, is Colligan in his Tyner bag. “The Righteous” is one of several attempts at pop/fusion, with Colligan on synth and Fender Rhodes. It sounds so generic it could be an advertising jingle.

The hard, glassy, congealed recorded sound of Runaway is part of the problem, especially since Colligan’s acoustic piano style is so unvarying in its aggression and percussiveness. The electric pieces fare no better. “When I Go” features a rather tuneless vocal by Kerry Politzer. The lyrics, buried in electric keyboard soup, are all but unintelligible. The other vocal track, “Forlorning,” may be wordless. With sound this weak, it’s hard to tell.