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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ROMAIN COLLIN

Press Enter

ACT 9583-2

 

 

  1. 99

  2. Clockwork

  3. Raw, Scorched And Untethered

  4. Holocene

  5. The Kids

  6. Webs

  7. San Luis Obispo

  8. Event Horizon

  9. The Line [Dividing Good And Evil Cuts Through The Heart Of Every Human Being]

  10. 'Round About Midnight


Romain Collin - Piano, sound design, programming

Luques Curtis - Double bass

Kendrick Scott - Drums

Laura Metcalf - Cello (tracks 1, 3, 6, 8)

Grey McMurray - Guitar (track 4)

Mino Cinelu - Percussion (track 3)

Jean-Michel Pilc - Whistles (track 5)

Megan Rose - Vocal (tracks 1, 8)


Press Enter is a startlingly good album by the French-born pianist and composer/arranger, Romain Collin, now resident in New York City. A product of the Berklee College of Music and then the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, he has matured into a compelling performer of distinction. Hearing him has brought back memories of the late, much lamented, Esbjörn Svensson and his trio, EST. The title of this new CD, Collin's third as a leader, came about in conversation with Wayne Shorter. Reflecting on those who are constantly articulating ideas, plans or visions but who never get around to putting them into practice, Shorter stressed the necessity to 'Press Enter' i.e. to act. For Collin, it has become a lodestar, a lasting point of reference.

On the album, Collin has two highly empathetic collaborators who were students with him at Berklee, namely bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Kendrick Scott. As well as his trio, several other musicians contribute, principally the cellist, Laura Metcalf. Collin's compositions provide most of the material on the disc, the exceptions being Holocene, a piece by Justin Iver of the American indie folk band, Bon Iver, and the immortal jazz standard, Round Midnight, from the pen of Thelonious Monk. A feature of Collin's playing is the use of ostinato, a persistently repeated phrase or rhythm.

I would single out four of the ten tracks for special praise. Raw, Scorched And Untethered, reflecting the fall-out from the end of a relationship, manages to be both romantic and touching. Superb. On Holocene, the trio pick out the theme with tenderness and reverence, combining to wonderful effect. For the engaging The Kids, pianist Jean-Michel Pilc chips in by whistling (briefly) the three note melody which forms the basis for the trio's exploration. Collin is inspirational on this one. I loved San Luis Obispo, a place in California, apparently dubbed 'The Happiest Place in America' by the New York Times. Here is a theme of exquisite simplicity which (if no-one has stepped up to the plate yet) cries out for lyrics to match the singular beauty of the tune. Those would be my choices.

Others will be drawn to the rolling rhythms of 99 or the insistent pulse of The Line [ Dividing Good And Evil Cuts Through The Heart Of Every Human Being]. Incidentally the latter, a quotation from the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, must surely count as one of the longer jazz titles! Webs helps the listener appreciate the respective talents of the group members, containing, as it does, pensive piano playing from the leader, complemented by articulate bass lines and neat yet powerful drumming, all building towards a forceful climax. Event Horizon is neo-classical and solemn in tone, as befits the subject of the composition - the Innocence Project which seeks the exoneration of those wrongly convicted on the basis of DNA evidence. The voices of those liberated from long prison sentences or Death Row as a result of the work of this campaigning organisation can be heard sharing snatches of their stories over the tune. The voice of Megan Rose and the cello of Laura Metcalf are also present in the mix. It only remains to mention 'Round About Midnight which receives an original treatment from Collin, at times fragmentary and fragile, yet always suggestive of the richness of Monk's classic melody.

Romain Collin adds to his burgeoning jazz reputation with this release. His musical accomplices have done him proud. It has been exciting and moving to hear this sublime performer/composer at work.

James Poore



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