How Romain Collin entered the music scene is sort of a roundabout story beginning with his peers in France who were uninterested in his growing passion for jazz and parents who insisted on him gaining an education at Management School in the UK. Yet the story continues with long hours spent in piano practice rooms, cultivating a fiery passion for music when he was supposed to have been studying for school. Collin evidently spent enough time in the practice rooms to win himself a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music and it was there that he found his fellow peers engulfed in the studies of jazz and music.
As The Calling is witness, Collin found two like-minded peers throughout his journey in drummer Kendrick Scott and bassist Luques Curtis with which he could explore the depths of his deeply personal compositions. Taken as one fluid piece of work, the album is experimental and explosive with a touch of intimacy. It takes listeners on a journey, a soundtrack complete with storylines, dialogue and intrigue folded into synthesizers, palates, and the relationships made between Collin’s melodic and harmonic dialogues meeting the rhythmic force of Curtis and Scott.
Taken track-by-track, the album is composed of moody palates of sound brought to life through an interesting meld of minimalist themes, repetition, and explosive outbursts from musicians seemingly possessed by the spirit of the compositions. The first two tracks on the album, “Storm” and “The Calling” set the mood of the coming tracks in this manner, but also serve to remind us that this is not a strictly jazz album. Collin presents us with a continually shifting sound bank as a means to create a lasting atmosphere within the record that ranges from haunting to inspiring. From the sounds of The Calling, the musical influences Collin pulled from were vast ranging.
Of the 12 tracks, ten are originals with two covers folded into the mix, though you might not recognize them on first listen. The first is a cover of John Mayer’s “Stop This Train,” which Collin decided to do on the recommendation of the album’s producer Matt Pierson to pay homage to Collin’s pop influences. While Mayer’s version chugs along, pulled forward by a mix of vocals and percussion, Collin opts for a slower tempo shaped with a fluidity the original lacked. The second cover is of the Horace Silver composition “Nica’s Dream,” in which Collin re-harmonizes the opening melody to fit the palate of sound he has brought us into.
In his own words, “It’s not about a concept, it’s just the sounds that made me feel good and I want to hear,” Collin says. “The music doesn’t come from a rational process, it’s mainly the result of a combination of sounds from different genres.” Indeed it would seem that the album is an aural representation of the sounds that move this emotive and talented pianist. To say his work is unorthodox would be somewhat of an understatement in the jazz community. That’s why I would take this album on it’s own merit. Don’t even try to categorize the work; simply enjoy the way it makes you feel. The masterful trio work assembled on these recordings is something to be held in high regard with respect to the sheer mastery with which each member – Collin, Curtis, and Scott – performs to. With the jazz scene in a time of exploration and expansion, this album no doubt presents listeners with a work of art that is worthy of being held onto for generations to come.
Words by Eric Sandler