Mad Science is the product of George Colligan's split keyboard personality -- or at least the half that has trouble sitting still.
Don't look to "Realization" for reminders of the Maryland-bred pianist who used to play swing and bop regularly at the now-shuttered One Step Down and subsequently traveled around the world as Cassandra Wilson's accompanist, enhancing her Deep South balladry with a subtle touch. Instead, here we find Colligan at the Hammond B-3 organ, or playing synthesizers, reveling in funk and fusion grooves alongside guitarist Tom Guarna and drummer Rodney Holmes.
What keeps the music from devolving into a purely retro exercise is Colligan's writing. He composed nine of the 11 tunes on "Realization," and although his scribbling, blues-drenched runs on "Utopian Struggle" and other pieces often evoke legendary B-3 organists, including Jack McDuff and Larry Young, there's a freshness and whimsicality that's apparent as well. For proof, check out the colorfully animated "Snidely Whiplash," with its cartoonish chatter and curiously deep hues, or the odd-meter excursion "Oblivion," with its skittish interplay and rhythmic twists. That's when you can hear Colligan's mind at work, exploring ways to bring something new to a classic Hammond-anchored combo. True, a couple of sketchy interludes are dispensable, but with the help of Guarna and Holmes, Mad Science marches on with vigor and wit.
-- Mike Joyce
Appearing Friday and Saturday at Twins Jazz.