Graham Collier

Hoarded Dreams
Cuneiform RUNE 252

One of the most notable of masterful British composer Graham Collier’s orchestral suites, Hoarded Dreams preserves its never-before-available premiere performance by an all-star, 19-piece big band at the 1983 Bracknell Jazz Festival.

Commissioned by the British Arts Council, Collier’s 70-minute, seven-part work slithers between compositions and improvisation. Additionally, the interplay among the individualistic players transforms the layered creation as they interpret its multi-faceted contours. On hand are distinctive international jazzmen in full partnership with top-flight soloists from the United Kingdom.

Among the highlights are Canadian-born flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler’s bright, lyrical flourishes in double counterpoint with the woody bass clarinet growls of John Surman; German trombonist Conny Bauer’s rubato breath-and-tongue percussion which contrasts with, or operates as part of, the three-piece ‘bone section. American trumpeter Ted Curson’s squeaky triplets and Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko’s more restrained work are on show; as are pianist Roger Dean’s adhesive comping; and the dissonant, yet inclusive saxophones vamps of Art Theman and German Matthias Schubert. Inventive use is made of Dave Powell’s slurry tuba blasts and connective licks from guitarists John Schröder and Ed Speight.

Filling in the harmonic framework around the solos is Collier’s orchestration, which presupposes a through knowledge of both American jazz and the European classical tradition. With bravura expressions which encompass fortissimo Wagnerian climaxes as well as the big band conventions of dramatic shout choruses and economical swing, the suite reconfirms the unique potency of Collier’s art. It also suggests that in the early 1980s, more listeners should have paid closer attention to characteristic U.K. sounds.

— Ken Waxman

For Whole Note Vol. 12 #8