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Colin Stranaham: Transformation

This young Denver native played with startling maturity while showcasing his advanced writing skills on his surprising debut, 2004’s Dreams Untold, recorded when he was just 17 years old. For his sophomore outing, the drummer-composer-bandleader continues to revel in sophisticated harmonies, hip time displacement and metric modulation on the kit while surrounding himself with top-shelf sideman, including the talented Le Boeuf brothers: Pascal on piano, Remy on tenor and alto saxes.

A precision timekeeper with a crisp attack and distinctly melodic tendencies, Stranahan’s interactive playing punctuates and enlivens metrically intricate material like Pascal’s “Piece of Mind” and “You Are” as well as Remy’s aggressive 7/4 romp “Casa Zimbabwe.” The drummer displays uncommon finesse with mallets and sticks on bassist Dominic Thiroux’s moody 9/4 vehicle, “The Search,” then nimbly shifts from slick brushwork to straight-eighth-note sizzle on his brother Jim Stranahan’s uptempo swing-blues number “It’s Not Always About You.” He demonstrates some dynamic flourishes on the kit on his own shimmering “Out of Reach,” a nice vehicle for Mark Clifford’s vibes playing, and then reveals a distinct Tony Williams influence on his other compositional contribution, “Moods of Perpetual Motion.”

Tenor saxophonist Michael Bailey contributes mightily throughout with bold tones and inventive lines and special guest trumpeter Greg Gisbert adds some virtuosic touches on Pascal’s “Piece of Mind,” Thiroux’s “No Thanks” and Remy’s “Sisyfus.” High-level writing and playing by this talented Mile High City crew.

Originally Published