Graham Collier

The Day of the Dead

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Graham Collier's 1978 outing, Day of the Dead, was his most sprawling and ambitious exercise yet, and the one that sent him into a recording exile for seven years. Day of the Dead was recorded with the same band as Symphony of Scorpions. Collier's love of Malcolm Lowry's texts from his time in Mexico became an obsession, and this work is the biggest payoff for it, whether or not it was understood in its own time. Here, a twelve-piece big band, and one narrator -- John Carbery -- staged readings from Lowry's work and illustrated them aurally. Collier's vision here is focused, intense, and spiritually charged by Lowry's work. This is not some jazz with text, where a written text becomes the thematic cause of a group of instrumentalists, but more a series of passages that offered great textural and spiritual depth and dimension by this obviously on fire group of musicians. Collier's group included his regular band of Roger Dean, Ed Speight, Ashley Brown, and Malcolm Griffiths was augmented with alumnus such as Art Theman and Alan Wakeman, along with Harry Beckett, Peter Duncan, and Henry Lowther (on "Part 6" only), Mike Paige ("Part 3"), as well as Roy Babbington. Speight, Wakeman, and Theman are out of this world in their contrapuntal improvising and modal engagement with Collier's framework. This is vanguard music, but it is far from "free jazz." The gorgeous chromatic range is almost overwhelming as these players entwine around one another, and the text, further extending the entire notion of collaboration between literature and jazz. The original recording took up three sides of a double record, and here it is added to by the debut of another suite, "Triptych," (from the same year) on Disc Two, as well as two other compositions. The totality of this set makes for Collier's most ambitious work yet, but also his most realized statement on record for a group of this size. This is the text for British and European big bands to follow.

blue highlight denotes track pick