Graham Collier composed "Midnight Blue," "Adam," and "Cathedral" as meditative responses to -- and accompaniments for -- like-named paintings by American abstract expressionist Barnett Newman. Collier, who had grown used to working conceptually after his previous effort, the monumental, stunning work Darius, recorded on his immediately preceding album of the same name, was firmly in his element with these deeply focused works. There was only one major change in Collier's band on this outing, which was the replacement of pianist Geoff Castle with Roger Dean. Castle's work had grown increasingly toward pro-rock and jazz fusion, and Collier, with his stablemates Ed Speight, Derek Wadsworth, and John Webb, were moving back into a knottily structured jazz modalism. Perhaps because of their inspiration sources, these pieces on Midnight Blue all feel very ponderous, open, and yet unyielding. This is uncharacteristic of most of Collier's work, and it feels as if even he didn't know what he was going for when he wrote these works. The lilting swing that is at the heart of his best work is absent here, and this feels more like an ECM recording than anything else.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek