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JAZZ | ALBUM REVIEWS

*** 1/2 SCOTT COLLEY, "Portable Universe," Free Lance

January 11, 1998|Bill Kohlhaase

Since moving to New York from Los Angeles in 1988, bassist and CalArts product Scott Colley has had a host of visible gigs with the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Henderson, John Scofield, Roy Hargrove, T.S. Monk and others. His debut recording as a leader shows not only why he's in such demand by the music's top players, but also presents an involved, emotional musical vision of contemporary life.

Colley's sextet includes a trio of important, emerging saxophone voices--busy session man Chris Potter, rising composer Dave Binney (who plays with Colley in the new music band Lost Tribe) and Steps Ahead tenor man Donny McCaslin--and the bassist uses all three horns to advantage in his compositions, often setting them off one against another in frictional counterpoint. The rhythm section of Colley, pianist Kenny Werner (Joe Lovano) and drummer Jeff Hirshfield (John Zorn, Randy Brecker) generates propulsive power behind the horns or, as in "Americana," a liquid, free-form surface on which the saxes float and mingle.

Most representative of the mood here is the Colley-Binney collaboration "The Lean," with its imperative, clockwork rhythms, minor-key feel and sax solos reminiscent of Steve Coleman's M-Base experiments. Colley's bass work stands out on "In My Never Mind" with its crisply stated, bottom-hugging lyricism. The intensity of Colley's debut CD marks him as a bandleader from which to expect great things.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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