His clearly brilliant keyboard playing, but also a sense of invention and curiosity, have marked George Colligan's career in many jazz forms and styles going well beyond conventional. A progressive mainstream instrumentalist and composer with youth-oriented ideals and adventurous ideas, Colligan has been on the verge of cracking into the upper echelon of contemporary jazz icons like Brad Mehldau, Jason Moran, and Matthew Shipp. Perhaps Runaway will do what his previous efforts did not, and raise his ante in the music world. His innate talent and ability to create new music is here in full regalia, making statements that at times hint at his influences, but give rise to his emerging voice on his instruments. Colligan plays an extraordinary acoustic piano, but also electric keyboards, the noble and still relevant Fender Rhodes, and inserts his competent trumpet playing to a track. Closest to his peers and idols, there's the hip, modal, direct, and straight-ahead "End of a Dynasty," a churning 7/8, darkly melodic title track, and funky 9/8 to 4/4 swing alongside guitarist Tom Guarna in the cleverly modified title "R U Things The All?" Colligan uses bright Rhodes and vibes synthesizer to great effect for the light samba "Be Gentle," wordless vocals of Kerry Politzer in a Chick Corea-Flora Purim styled "Forlorning," and lyrics vocalized by Politzer on the departure remembrance waltz song. "When I Go." Incorporating the most heavy R&B elements of organ, Rhodes, synth, and guitar, "The Righteous" sports all of the sounds the 20-somethings crave, as conversely does the free no-time, improvised "Skeletons in the Closet." As far as Colligan's direct influences, "Ghostland" pays homage to the heavy, loping and Zen aspects of McCoy Tyner's style, while "Innocent Youth" is the most swinging jazz tune of the date, with his trumpet reflecting images as old as Roy Eldridge, as refined as Miles Davis, and as nuanced as Terence Blanchard. This is a solid offering, excellent and diverse from top to bottom, and is easily George Colligan's best effort to date.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos