The Calling – Romain Collin (2012)

Album artwork for The Calling

Album artwork for The Calling

Originally from France, he came to the United States to attend the Berklee College of Music on scholarship, where he majored in Music Synthesis and studied piano performance.  He graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz after having performed on a full scholarship in an ensemble handpicked by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard.  I could keep going through Romain Collin‘s impressive list of achievements, but it’s probably better to just let his music speak for itself.  After his promising 2008 debut, The Rise and Fall of Pipokuhn, Collin is back with The Calling, a deeply personal album and perhaps his most creative effort yet.

Collin enlisted the musical talents of Luques Curtis on bass and Kendrick Scott on drums to round off the piano trio.  It is obvious right from the start that the trio has tremendous chemistry.  The musical interplay between instruments is absolutely phenomenal, with each part seeming to have a mind of its own. Rather than this resulting in chaos, however, it results in the masterful collaboration between three individuals who are completely in tune with the music they are creating.

On jazzreview.com, Ann Braithwaite writes of Romain Collin: “Flowing from his singular creative path as a classically trained musician besotted with jazz giants like Errol Garner, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, and Bud Powell, his music is utterly idiosyncratic, yet fully part of a generational zeitgeist informed by indie rock and adventurous pop music.”  Aside from being an absolutely exquisite piece of writing, this excerpt describes perfectly the many different styles that are present within these twelve deeply emotional compositions.  What might have turned out to be a traditional jazz piano trio collaboration has been further enhanced by Collin’s background in classical music.  A pianist who has a strong grasp of the classical, jazz, and pop idioms will almost certainly produce original music that is ripe with creativity.

Romain Collin is precise in his voicings, yet he seems almost carefree in his cascading piano runs; thoughtful in his writing, yet easygoing in the dynamic he shares with the other musicians.  All of this was achieved in the short span of two days of recording, followed by two weeks of post-production work by Collin himself.  The sound design is truly phenomenal on The Calling, augmenting the mood of the album, but not overshadowing the musicians themselves.  While most of the songs are relatively slow, emotional pieces, Collin also throws in some more upbeat and complex numbers (“Runner’s High” and “Pennywise the Clown”) that establish his technical precision as an impeccably trained pianist.

Overall, The Calling is a brilliant example of how jazz has progressed into the modern era, and it has a notable addition to any jazz lover’s collection.  As a musician myself, I can confidently say that I have taken a good deal of inspiration from Romain Collin’s work, and I eagerly look forward to his future works.

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