(Cuneiform)

In 1963 Graham Collier became the first British graduate of the legendary Berklee College of Music in Boston; five years later, the Tynemouth composer had already assembled a real “who’s who” of Britain’s jazz players. The Graham Collier Dozen included – among others – Mike Gibbs, John Surman and Kenny Wheeler; their premiere recording of “Workpoints” is here released for the first time, together with extracts from a 1975 concert in Middleheim (Belgium), a sextet whose only link with the previous piece is trumpeter Harry Beckett. Both discs are an important page in British jazz, showing Collier’s lucid vision pretty clearly; the music, be it in the hands of the “Dozen” or in the jazz-rock tendencies of the sextet, shows its age without reticence, preserving the fascinating charm of those well known codes that Collier loves to apply, even when the groups’ cohesion is put under pressure by the centrifugal force of the soloists. His themes are strong, sustaining the weight of time admirably, although some of those years’ clichés appear here and there – together with tape distortion – to remind us that we’re listening to archival material; but this look into the past, as it always happens with Cuneiform’s similar operations, conjures lots of forgotten enchantments which we won’t probably be able to savour anytime soon.

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