|Limited edition 2-disc set with 24-bit remastering.
For those enamored with the detailed and often brilliant writing of British bassist Graham Collier, the rare and sumptuous two-CD Day of the Dead set issued on the Spanish Disconforme label is a wonderful feast. The first CD, the reissue of a suite linked to Malcolm Lowry's "Day of the Dead," is one of the most successful fusings of spoken word and jazz on disc. While the concept of jazz accompanying poetry was, of course, not new when this was composed, rarely if ever have the two been so inextricably and magnificently intertwined. Collier writes for his 12-piece ensemble so that every word of the selections from Lowry's work — as read sonorously and convincingly by John Carbery — is seamlessly connected to the music, a rare and laudatory accomplishment. Cadences rise and fall, and the music is remarkably a part of the recitation, and not merely background. It helps, of course, that all the words are clearly articulated and easily understood, and that Lowry's writings are hypnotically revealing, particularly as recited beautifully by Carbery. The strictly instrumental second CD, released here for the first time (except for "October Ferry," which appeared on the original LP), is somewhat less convincing, opening with some excellent abstract piano work from Roger Dean, and features, at various times, some fine solos from most members of the ensemble, including saxophonist Alan Wakeman, guitarist Ed Speight, and trombonist Malcolm Griffiths. The first, longest, and strongest piece of the second disc, the avant-garde-infused "October Ferry," which is also the longest on either disc, is also inspired by Lowry's "Day of the Dead," though it is performed here wordlessly. The three "Triptych" tracks are based on the composer's impressions of paintings by Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, and Hans Hartung, and there are plenty of inspired moments, though in retrospect some of the emphasis on the electric guitar sounds a tad dated, a throwback to the late '70s, when this was written and first performed.