Internationally acclaimed pianist and composer Romain Collin is a featured performer in the JazzEssenz-Festival 2016 presented by KiFF (Culture in the feed factory) on Saturday, February 20. Joining him are Felipe Cabrera on bass and Diego Pinera on drums.
Collin, a native of Antibes, France who came to the US to study at Berklee College of Music and later earned a place at the Monk Institute, has performed or recorded alongside artists such as Mike Stern, John McLaughlin, Christian McBride, Gregoire Maret, Lauryn Hill, Tim Green and Joe Sanders. While at the Monk Institute he also toured with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock and shared the stage with artists such as Marcus Miller, Jimmy Heath, and Terence Blanchard. Jon Weber from NPR called him “a visionary composer, an extraordinary jazz pianist and a very bright young rising star in the jazz world.”
Collin recently composed a symphonic score to the “Words on Fire” video for The Malala Foundation. The film kicked off the launch of the #standwithmalala campaign, and clocked nearly 2 million views on Facebook in 48 hours. He has also written numerous film scores for projects including Ombline de la Grandiere’s five-part 2014 documentary Le Bresil par la Cote, Vlada Subotic’s About Me (2010), Gleb Osatinski’s award-winning Pisces of an Unconscious Mind (2011), The House at the Edge of The Galaxy (2013) and The Quantified Self (2015), Yaara Sumeruk’s Ringo (2012) and Parliamo Italiano (2013), and Lauren Fritz's Gallina (2015).
Press Enter, which was released in the US October 2 on the ACT Music label (and released earlier in Europe), has already earned wide critical acclaim. The album title comes from two life-changing words shared with Collin by legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Musing on people who spend their whole lives talking about plans, ideas, or dreams without ever seeming to take action, Shorter fell briefly silent before bursting out with an urgent commandment: “Press enter!”
“I started laughing, but I thought the wording was genius,” recalls Collin, who had the unique opportunity to spend time gleaning advice and direction from both Shorter and Herbie Hancock while touring India and Vietnam with a band from the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. “He encapsulated such a clear concept practically, intellectually and emotionally. It felt so compelling in just two words, that idea of doing something and not just conceptualizing it.”
Collin took that advice to heart to such an extent that it provides the title for his third release as a leader, Press Enter. The phrase offers not just a title, but a guiding mantra, as the French-born pianist vigorously seizes on his widely-varied inspirations to create an inventive and lyrical take on the piano trio tradition. For Collin, the freedom to follow his muse is so deeply rooted that even the potential of its being taken away provides a spark of inspiration: the profoundly moving “Event Horizon” incorporates the actual voices of wrongly incarcerated prisoners freed through the efforts of The Innocence Project.
Press Enter is Collin’s second album recorded by his incredibly gifted trio with bassist Luques Curtis and drummer Kendrick Scott, following their acclaimed 2013 release The Calling. Both were fellow students of Collin’s at the Berklee College of Music during the early ‘00s. “Kendrick is like a painter on the drums,” Collin says. “You never hear a drummer when he plays; you just hear music. He’s incredibly sensitive and has such width and depth in his knowledge of what he can express on that instrument. Luques is a great friend and he plays the bass like a bass should be played. Everything he plays feels really, really good and just the way it should to support the trio and the music.”
In 2009, Collin released his first effort as a leader, The Rise and Fall of Pipokuhn (Fresh Sound), a work described by All About Jazz as "an astonishingly mature and ambitious debut that secures Collin a placeholder in the continuing evolution of the grand tradition of the piano trio" (Phil DiPietro). His second record, The Calling (Palmetto, 2012) was described by the Washington Post as "distinctly personal and creative" (Mike Joyce) and hailed by The Revivalist as an album that "presents listeners with a work of art that is worthy of being held onto for generations to come" (Eric Sandler).