British bassist/composer/educator Graham Collier is credited with launching the British progressive-jazz movement as this program featuring live material recorded in 1968 (disc one), provides credence to his importance. Meanwhile, disc two was recorded live in 1975, while highlighting the bassist’s compositions and arrangements with a sextet. In addition, the second disc is comprised of jazz-fusion works, partly due to Ed Speight’s plugged-in and expansive guitar lines, to coincide with Roger Dean’s acoustic and electric piano voicings. Nonetheless, these previously unreleased (on compact disc) recordings offer a historic viewpoint of Britain’s modern jazz aura. The cast rings as a list of artists’ who later gained prominence, whether globally or in European circles.
The first disc highlights the talents of jazz heroes, saxophonist John Surman, drummer John Marhsall, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and many others of note, to round a large ensemble gala. As for the sonic attributes, well there is some distortion in areas, but the music circumvents the intermittent imperfections. And of course, it was well-worth this record label’s time and investment to release these nuggets from yesteryear. Brimming with the soloists’ hearty exchanges, amid the band’s vibrant swing vamps, Collier’s charts boast several stop and start type episodes, topped off with contrasting soundscapes.
The bassist’s meticulously designed works are quite attainable as the hornists’ emphatic choruses are often speckled with somber movements to complement their prominently conveyed re-engineering processes. On "Workpoints Part I," the saxophonists veer off into the free-zone in certain areas atop odd-metered time signatures and yearning choruses layered with Afro-Cuban rhythms. Collier also uses space as an integral compositional element. Then on disc two, the sextet breezes through melodically tinged themes, fiery solo escapades, warm horns, and swaggering grooves, as the musicians enjoy ample stretching room. Overall, there’s a lot to be gained by listening to Collier’s innovative inclinations that show no hint of anything that would be considered dated or passé. It’s hot stuff for the mind and soul! (Vigorously recommended.... )