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George Colligan: Living for the City

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Pianist George Colligan’s Living for the City, a record of jazz, rock and soul standards, is spotty. It’s not thoroughly inconsistent; Colligan’s power trio (bassist Josh Ginsburg and drummer E.J. Strickland) is unrelenting in its virtuosity, vigor and pursuit of advanced harmonies. But the music, though sometimes cogent and inspired, can also be unfocused and self-indulgent.

That’s clear from the opening “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” a 72-bar arrangement on which Colligan has a nearly full-chorus intro, then two solo choruses. All of it is lengthy and repetitious without any real trajectory. Similarly, the 7/4 take on “Keep Me Hanging On” develops largely into vamping and predictable licks. Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” is built on what Colligan’s liners call “a subtle reharmonization”-so subtle it’s barely noticeable-and very static improvisation.

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