Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Colligan, George (George Harrington Colligan IV)

Colligan, George [George Harrington Colligan IV], pianist; b. Summit, NJ, 29 December 1969. Grew up in Columbia, Maryland (1974-1987). His father George Harrington Colligan III was from Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. His mother Judy Lynn Colligan was from Newark, New Jersey. He has a sister, Dana Lynn Colligan, born 1971 in Coral Gables, Florida.

He went to Longfellow Elementary School, Harper's Choice Middle School, and Centennial High School. He took piano lessons at age 7 for 2 months with Mrs. Shockley. He took up trumpet in Longfellow Elementary, where the band teacher was Bob Barrett. The Harper's Choice Middle band director and trumpet teacher was Lee Stevens. At Centennial High (1984-87), the band director was Don Cohen for 3 years and Jack Schwalm for 1 year. He continued trumpet with Lee Stevens. He took a piano class with Joanne Ruckert. He attended Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, MD (1987-1991), getting a Bachelor's in Classical Trumpet and Music Education. His trumpet teacher was Wayne Cameron. He studied piano with Fred Karpoff (1991). He attended Banff Summer Jazz workshop in Alberta Canada (1990) where he studied with Steve Coleman, Marvin Smitty Smith, Robin Eubanks, Kevin Eubanks, Kenny Wheeler, Rufus Reid, Stanley Cowell, and Mark Ledford. He was a freelance pianist in Baltimore and D.C. from 1991 to 94. His first major tour with Gary Thomas in Europe, Fall 1994 on Hammond B3 organ with Paul Bollenbach and Terri Lynne Carrington.

George Colligan has been on the New York scene since moving to Brooklyn in 1995. He has toured, recorded, and performed as a sideman with Cassandra Wilson, Gary Bartz, Gary Thomas, Eddie Henderson, Ravi Coltrane, Ralph Peterson, Vanessa Rubin, Steve Wilson, Jane Monheit, Janis Siegal, Michael Brecker, Lenny White, Nicholas Payton, Christian McBride, Billy Hart, John Stubblefield, The Mingus Big Band, Rodney Holmes, Mark Turner, David Binney, Don Braden, Lee Konitz and Stefon Harris, among others. In addition to his work as a bandleader, George currently is working steadily with the bands of Don Byron, Lonnie Plaxico, Buster Williams, Robin Eubanks, David Gilmore, and Shunzo Ono.
Recent highlights of George's activities would include his tenure with Grammy winning vocalist Cassandra Wilson from 1999 to 2001. Not only did George tour with her in Japan, North America, and almost every country in Western Europe, but he appears with Cassandra in The Score, a movie which features Robert Deniro and Edward Norton. 

In 2001, George began working with clarinetist Don Byron. The itinerary with Mr. Byron has so far included a Stravinsky concert in Vienna, several duo concerts, a soundtrack recording for a PBS documentary, a Six Musicians tour of the U.S. and England, and a quintet tour with concerts in Portugal, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Macedonia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. George has performed with Mr. Byron in his Jungle Music project, which features early works of Ellington, and Bug Music, which features music of Raymond Scott. As part of Don's Symphony Space Series, they will perform a tribute to Sugar Hill Records, the label that hosted many of rap music's stars of the early 80s.They also did a concert of the music of Earth Wind and Fire and Herb Alpert.

George was born in Summit, New Jersey, and grew up in Columbia, Maryland, a suburban town between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. His first instrument was the trumpet, although he did take piano lessons for a brief period at age 7. George became more serious about the trumpet in Grade 6 when his teacher, Lee Stevens, inspired him to listen intelligently to many different styles of music, particularly jazz and 20th century classical music. It was clear that George was to pursue music as a career, although less clear was in what capacity. In 1987, George enrolled at Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore as a trumpet and Music Education major. However, during his time at Peabody, his interest in the piano and jazz became stronger and he started gigging in hotels and clubs in town.

Upon graduation from Peabody in 1991, George promptly quit the trumpet to focus exclusively on the piano. He was freelancing more in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, playing with many different bands at night while practicing hard during the day, developing his chops, learning tunes and transcribing solos of the piano masters. He also began composing more frequently. Additionally, George was the director of the Peabody Jazz Ensemble from 1991 to 1993. Upon moving to D.C. in 1993, he continued freelancing and also had a number of private piano students.
In 1994 George was a semifinalist in 2 piano competitions; in Indianapolis and Jacksonville respectively. Although George was extremely in demand in the Baltimore/Washington scene, he had aspirations of tackling the Big Apple, and when Gary Bartz invited him to join his band for a week at Sweet Basil's, George decided to make the the move to New York.

He was one of eleven winners of the Chamber Music America New Works Grant for Jazz Composition; his resulting suite "Post 9/11" was premiered May 8, 2003 at The Jazz Gallery. He also won a Jazzconnect.com competition resulting in his 2003 live CD. He travels to Spain frequently as a member of the New York Flamenco Reunion, a jazz flamenco project led by Spanish drummer Marc Miralta.

Activism (1996); Newcomer (1997); Unresolved (1999); Constant Source (2000); Stomping Ground (2000); Desire (2000); Como La Vida Puede Ser (How Life Could Be) (2001);     Agent 99 (2001); A Wish (2002); Ultimatum     (2002); Return to Copenhagen (2002); Live at Blues Alley (2003); Mad Science (2003)
As sideperson:
Ron Holloway: Slanted (1993); Eddie Henderson: Dark Shadows (1995); Sheryl Bailey: Little Misunderstood (1995); Rumba Club: Desde La Capital (1995); Sunny Sumter: Getting to Know You (1996); Jed Levy: Sleight of Hand (1996); Gary Bartz: Blues Chronicles: Tales of Life (1996); Karen Francis: Where Is Love? (1996); Ingrid Jensen: Here on Earth (1997); Melissa Walker: May I Feel (1997), Moment of Truth (1999); Johannes Enders: Bright Nights (1998); Gary Thomas: Found on Sordid Streets (1998); Vanessa Rubin: Language of Love (1999); Andrew Rathbun: True Stories (2000), Scatter Some Stones (2000); Gregory Tardy: Hidden Light (2000), Abundance (2001); Robin Eubanks & Mental...: Get 2 It (2001); Ari Ambrose: Early Song (2001); David Gilmore: Ritualism (2001); Rich Perry: O Grand Amor (2001); Lonnie Plaxico: Melange (2001); Metta Quintet: Going to Meet the Man (2002); Marcus Printup: New Boogaloo (2002); Lee Konitz: Pride; Gary Thomas: Overkill; Don Braden: The Contemporary/ The Voice of the Saxophone; Dave Ballou: The Floating World; Alex Norris: A New Beginning; Myron Walden:(not yet released); Marc Miralta: New York Flamenco Reunion; Ari Ambrose: Cyclic Episode; Youth Sonic: For the Great Jazz Road; Yosuke Inoue: Speak Up!; The Music of Mercedes Rossy; Guillermo McGill: Los Suenos y El Tiempo; Fred Foss: The Journey; Todd Herbert: The Todd Herbert Quartet; Noah Becker: Noah Becker; Chieko Tsutsumi: Soaring Feather, (one more not yet released); Phil Burlin: Urban Undertow; Heidi Martin: Alone Together; Jed Levy: Sleight of Hand; Ivories on the Avenue; Cruce de Caminos; Ray Brown:(not yet released); Masahiro Nakagawa: That's Old Fashioned; Will Martin: Morning; Tom Baldwin: Glom on To This; Ralph Alessi/Ravi Coltrane Quintet; Dave Ballou; Debra Brown; Ravi Coltrane: Mad 6; Jamie Baum; Lonnie Plaxico: Live at 501 Club; Jam Session(with Mark Turner, Sam Newsome; Jam Session Part 2(with Alex Norris, Ari Ambrose)

Film scores:
The Score (with Cassandra Wilson); Don Byron: Strange Fruit (PBS Documentary)

Interview at allaboutjazz.com

Contact information:
George Colligan
917 309 3953
718 459 2150
website   www.georgecolligan.com

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