The book takes a close look at the phrase ‘the jazz composer’: what it means in jazz, what it means for jazz, what it can mean for the future of jazz. After a discussion of the repertoire, a section is devoted to Duke Ellington, whose music exemplifies the fact that a jazz composer must have regard for the individual voices of his musicians.
Although regard for Ellington’s example and the traditions of jazz in general are still important, the changes that developed in jazz in the late 1950s show that new things are possible. For jazz to develop they can and must happen, and the ways that more can be done with jazz composition are demonstrated with particular reference to the music of Charles Mingus and Gil Evans. Collier’s own debt to them, as well as Ellington, is shown in the final section, which illustrates with examples how he deals with moving what’s on the paper into a ‘real time, once’ jazz performance.
Graham Collier, born in Tynemouth, England, in 1937, died in Crete on 9th September 2011. He was a highly regarded jazz composer, whose music has been compared to that of Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus and Gil Evans. He was the first British graduate of the Berklee School of Music, and the first recipient of an Arts Council jazz bursary. He was also the author of several books on jazz, and for 12 years was artistic director of the jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent his final years in Greece, where he continued to compose, travelling from there to present concerts and workshops around the world.
For tributes to Graham Collier by Django Bates and Ann Cotterrell (Northway Books), visit http://londonjazz.blogspot.com/2011/09/graham-collier.html