For those not familiar with the music of Graham Collier, this is a great place to start. For those who were there to follow the music as it unfolded here is another gem to add to the collection.

My Only Desire Records MOD005CD

Graham Collier (double bass); Harry Becket (trumpet & flugelhorn); Nick Evans (trombone); Stan Sulzmann (tenor & alto saxophone); Karl Jenkins (oboe & piano); John Marshall (drums)

Recorded at Stockholm’s Jazz Day festival in 1969 this album comprises of previously unreleased material mirroring in a raw and exciting live performance of much of the Down Another Road LP released on Fontana Records. With the original Fontana release now being highly regarded and sought after, this latest addition to Collier’s discography adds to the story considerably.

In a band packed with some of the greatest talent in British jazz the development of the music always seems to shine brightest away from the confines of the recording studio where the musicians feel able to stretch out and maybe take a risk or two.

A composer first and foremost, Graham Collier led some explosive ensembles for which he wrote music that was paradoxically accessible with catchy melodic hooks and driving rhythmic motifs yet would also be unafraid let the band to dip their collective toes into group improvisations that generated plenty of excitement yet always retained a connection to the composition.

Nowhere is this more pronounced than on the closing ‘Aberdeen Angus’ with Collier’s bass setting the scene along with Karl Jenkins’s piano and drummer John Marshall setting up a superb groove for trumpeter Harry Beckett. Relishing the rhythmic impetus that has been set in motion, Beckett takes an exuberant solo that is perhaps his finest of the album.ce brings on a

This live set contains all apart from one of the pieces heard on the studio album, with ‘Danish Blue’ being omitted in favour of ‘Burblings For Bob’, and a fine piece of music making it is too.

At thirteen minutes plus there is plenty of room for the musicians to stretch out. From a compositional standpoint the music is constantly on the move from the free interplay of the frontline leading firstly into a more settled feel with a lovely solo from Harry Beckett before being joined by the rest of the band.

If Beckett’s solo was a difficult act to follow, Sulzmann acquits himself with honours in a brief solo that is full of expression and subtle use of dynamics that add emphasis to his phrases.

‘Down Another Road’ has another fantastic solo from Harry Becket along with a tenor outing from Stan Sulzmann that generates some real heat. The young saxophonist, Sulzmann was just twenty when these recordings were made, also takes a fine solo on the beautiful composition by Karl Jenkins ‘Lullaby for a Lonely Child’, this time on alto saxophone.

Karl Jenkins presence brings on a dual role in the band. Firstly, as the only chordal instrument with his piano playing but more importantly perhaps with his use of the oboe both in the ensemble and also as a soloist.

His oboe on ‘The Barley Mow’ with its lovely melody and ensemble playing is a delight, while his solo on ‘Molewrench’ brings forward images of the east. Powered along by bass and drums, it maybe suggested that the soprano playing of early sixties John Coltrane has seeped into Jenkins’s vocabulary.

For those not familiar with the music of Graham Collier, this is a great place to start. For those who were there to follow the music as it unfolded here is another gem to add to the collection.

There is much British jazz of the sixties and seventies that remains overlooked and underappreciated, and it is to the great credit of labels such as My Only Desire that the music is being unearthed and made available for a new generation to assimilate and enjoy.

It is to this end that such ventures deserve our full support, and in doing so we enrich our own listening and understanding an important era in the history of jazz in the UK.

Reviewed by Nick Lea