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Romain Collin

Jazzed Magazine • May 2012What's on Your Playlist? • May 30, 2012

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A rising star in the jazz world, visionary pianist and composer Romain Collin is fast making his mark on the New York scene, with international acclaim not far behind.

Collin came to the U.S. from Antibes, France on a scholarship to attend Berklee College of Music, where he studied with the likes of Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano. In 2007, Romain graduated from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz where he held a full scholarship as the pianist of an ensemble handpicked by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and Terence Blanchard. During this time Collin also had the opportunity to tour with Hancock and Shorter in Vietnam and India.

Romain Collin’s new album, The Calling (Palmetto), is a tour de force that showcases his strengths as an accomplished composer and virtuoso pianist of the highest order.

1. Piano Concerto No. 23 in A, K. 488 – Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by Maurizio Pollini and the Wiener Philharmoniker

This concerto is some of the most beautiful, elegant, and effortlessly balanced music ever written. The second movement in particular shows a more reflective and darker side of Mozart, it is quite simply sublime. As for Pollini, his piano touch and sound on this recording is some of the greatest I have ever heard. His rendition of the concerto really captures the essence of the music, combining lightness with incredible focus and real depth in tone and phrasing…which is so difficult when performing Mozart.

2. The V.S.O.P. Quintet Live – VSOP

Hubbard/Shorter/Hancock/Carter/Williams… Wayne and Freddie backed up by what probably is the greatest rhythm section. The energy on this record is incredible. I can listen to any track in a loop and listen to Herbie, Ron and Tony shape-shifting at the speed of light. The dynamic and communication between everyone in the band is so inspiring. Ensemble playing at its highest.

3. Paris/London: Testament – Keith Jarrett

Keith’s solo piano playing is unique and unparalleled in its flow, level of focus, and momentum. Keith’s unconditional commitment to exploring the piano and all of its possibilities is a great source of inspiration. Throughout his solo career, one hears constant development in his touch, technique, and harmonic concepts while always feeling this raw force, an intense and singular focus and unconditional commitment to the creative process of true improvisation. In Paris–London, I hear a real stretch in tonality without ever becoming atonal, which I find very interesting, especially from a musician who has truly mastered tonal music. Jarrett keeps challenging himself and sets the bar always higher.

4. Herbie Hancock Trio with Ron Carter and Tony Williams 

This is a record that I keep coming back to and that is rarely mentioned. The trio exudes so much raw, rhythmic energy. Herbie is on fire; his flow of ideas seems endless and relentlessly drives the band. Incredible group improvisation and interaction by one of the greatest trios and rhythm sections in the history of jazz music.

5. Complete Capitol Recordings of Art Tatum

Oh well… The music speaks for itself! Words would most definitely fall short of describing the wonder that is Art Tatum’s playing.

6. Piano Concerto No 3 – Sergei Rachmaninov, performed by Martha Argerich and Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra

Rachmaninov is one of my favorite composers and a great influence. I feel that the third concerto is his best. The orchestration, the counterpoints, the stretch in harmony and the piano writing all make for a masterpiece so incredibly rich, dense and gorgeous. I could spend the rest of my life studying this concerto! Martha Argerich is one of the great piano virtuosi and plays this piece with so much energy, passion and authority.

7. Gone, Just Like a Train – Bill Frisell

Bill Frisell’s playing is so grounded and economical. It keeps reminding me that playing what we honestly hear is the very root of true improvisation. I am always amazed and inspired by how Bill has created a truly unique sound based on a singular mix of Blues, Jazz and Country music.

8. Ella and Louis – Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong

A true classic, music making at its purest by the greatest line up! Oscar’s comping is off the hook!

9. Blue – Joni Mitchell

Joni is the quintessential singer-songwriter. I love this record for its bare, stripped down orchestration; it really puts Joni’s voice at the forefront of the music. The songs are super charged emotionally, rich and complex harmonically and all the melodies are so uniquely Joni!

10. Amnesiac – Radiohead

Radiohead is one of my greatest musical influences. I think they are true pioneers in the way they blur the lines between electronic composition and heavy songwriting. I feel that Radiohead’s music truly encompasses all the great pillars of music, from memorable and haunting melodies to heavy rhythm, from lush harmony to complex form and rich orchestration. Nigel Goldrich is a true magician, his vision as a producer is so singular and was a real game changer in the world of pop-rock music. It is so interesting to see such organic chemistry between the band and the producer… The musical possibilities seem limitless.

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