is the first biography of bassist, band-leader, composer, educator and author Graham Collier. Duncan Heining
draws extensively on Collier’s personal archive, as well as on interviews with fellow musicians, ex-students and colleagues from the Royal Academy of Music. It locates Collier and his work within the social and cultural changes which occurred during his life and, particularly, in relation to developments in British and European jazz of the 1960s and '70s. Collier’s work as a composer-bandleader represented an attempt to resolve the paradoxes inherent in jazz between composition and improvisation, familiarity and spontaneity and change and tradition. In this regard, Mosaics
compares Collier’s work with other composers such as Duke Ellington
, Charles Mingus
, Gil Evans
, Mike Westbrook
, Stan Tracey
, Barry Guy
and Butch Morris
Throughout, Collier emerges as a contradictory figure falling between several different camps. He was never an out-and-out musical, cultural or political radical but rather an individualist continually forced to confront the contradictions in his own position—a musical outsider working within a marginalised area of cultural activity; a gay man operating in a very male area of the music business and within heterosexist culture in general; a man of working class origins stepping outside traditionally prescribed class boundaries; and a musician-composer seeking individual solutions to collective problems of aesthetic and ethical value.
Praise for Mosaics
A hugely important and influential figure within the UK hotbed of modern-jazz musicians in the '60s and into the '70s. Duncan Heining's research embraces his own interviews with Collier and his associates, a thorough perusal of contemporary press coverage and sharply incisive and forensic analysis of the recordings in the Collier catalogue.
This is a very honest, very readable book, about a complex man. One of its incidental pleasures is that it gives a comprehensive picture of jazz in the second half of the last century in the UK. Heining says that his purpose in writing the book: ‘is my hope that readers will come to an appreciation of Collier’s rightful place in jazz—as a composer, educator and theorist.’ Heining succeeds in his objective. —
presents a fascinating picture of a rich, multi-faceted life. It provides a valuable celebration of the work and legacy of one of the UK’s most important and influential musical figures.
—London Jazz News
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