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GEORGE COLLIGAN, DOWNBEAT POLL-WINNING KEYBOARDIST, LEADS AN ELECTRIC POWER TRIO DRENCHED WITH ENERGY AND VIRTUOSITY.
Featuring two wunderkind students George Colligan mentors at Portland State University (Enzo Irace on guitar and Micah Hummel on drums), Escape Route is an adventure in electric energy and a display of effortless mastery. Other Barry is a collective effort but emerges from ideas stemming from Colligan’s organ trio Mad Science. In this setting, Colligan (winner of Downbeat Poll for Keyboards in 2015) plays synth bass and keyboards to create a modern yet retro sound. When asked about the concept behind the album, Colligan remarked, “Other Barry is a cooperative group where I collaborate with Enzo and Micah. The music is contemporary in sound and approach, with foundations in jazz, funk, and rock. It’s fusion for the 21st century.”
Colligan does not shy away from the word “fusion” because he is an established jazz master that has accompanied or led groups featuring the likes of Jack DeJohnette, Buster Williams, Lenny White, Gary Bartz, Mingus Big Band, Don Byron, Gary Thomas, Ravi Coltrane, and many more. He is known for his sensitive accompaniment, flawless technique, and unwavering pulse. Still, he is no stranger to stretching boundaries. There have been projects like his singer/songwriter project, Write Them Down. He has lead an album from behind the drum kit with his chordless quartet Theoretical Planets. And in 2016 he was commissioned by the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble to write a new work, Fathers and Sons Suite, for its flagship 12-piece chamber jazz ensemble that premiered at the Montavilla Jazz Festival.
As Colligan points out, this trio is not all about him. Irace and Hummel have plenty of chances to shine on their own. Irace dances gracefully through intricate and challenging melodies with a mature sound. He adds color when the composition requires it, he makes his influences abundantly clear, and his solo on “Way Too Easy” displays how bright his future as an improviser truly is. Hummel simply shreds throughout. He does this without playing too much. He uses his finely-honed technique to add to the rhythmic tapestry when there are holes to be filled. The recording is energetic from beginning to end with frequent trips to ethereal, otherworldly spaces.