In just over two decades, pianist-composer George Colligan has released more than two dozen albums as a leader, served as a sideman on over a hundred more, toured with and played in the bands of Jack DeJohnette and other greats, and taught at Juilliard and several universities. He’s the type of artist for whom the phrase “best-kept secret” was coined: constantly working and too accomplished to be called a journeyman, yet rarely the first name to roll off the lips when top-10 lists are compiled.
More Powerful is a prime example of why Colligan’s stature should be elevated. The nine new compositions he’s recorded on his debut for Whirlwind, with the crack team of Linda May Han Oh (bass), Rudy Royston (drums) and Nicole Glover (tenor and soprano saxophones), are imbued with estimable technique and creativity; but, more important, they’re eminently listenable, often gripping pieces of music. “Whiffle Ball,” the postbop cavalcade that opens the program, takes off like a solid homerun slug, the core piano trio buzzing with ceaseless ferocity until, a couple of minutes in, Glover raises the bar yet again.