from The Seattle Times:

“I didn’t go to jazz school,” says Portland-based pianist George Colligan. “I learned on the bandstand.”

Indeed. When he was playing with Gary Bartz a few years back, the famous alto saxophonist suddenly started playing “Witchcraft” on the stand without announcing it.

“I didn’t know it,” recalls Colligan, “but he played the harmony so well, I just learned it. That sort of thing really drives your nervous system.”

Colligan plays the Ballard Jazz Festival next week, as a leader at several events and as a sideman with Bartz. Hopefully, Colligan won’t have to learn any new tunes on demand.

But if he does, the 43-year-old veteran will be up to the task, as those who have seen him here before — particularly at his 2007 Triple Door gig with saxophonist Ravi Coltrane — know full well.

The Baltimore-raised pianist plays with sizzling abandon in a driving, polytonal style that owes a lot to Herbie Hancock and McCoy Tyner without slavishly imitating either.

Colligan is an emblematic choice for the Ballard fest, in that he represents the event’s hyperlocal-with-a-dash-of-flash values. A teacher as well as a working musician with an international reputation, Colligan is ensconced deeply in the Portland scene and understands that passing the music along to young players is as much a part of the tradition as playing it.

Continue reading at The Seattle Times.

Seattle Jazz