Nick Colionne – Keepin it Cool

Nick Colionne
Keepin’ It Cool
(Narada Jazz – 2006)
by S.H. Watkins, Sr.

A lot of people said he’d never make it out of the local Chicago music scene. Perserverence, good management, creativity and (most importantly) talent and style proved the nay-sayers wrong… again. Nick has signed with Narada and is back with a CD that grabs you by your groove and makes you move. From start to finish the CD is filled with smooth, bumping music that keeps your head bopping and your fingers popping.

From the romping opening track “Can You Feel It” the energy on this release almost pours out onto you. “Keepin It Cool” drops you into a Colionne groove and has overtones of Wes in it’s textures. My favorite is “Always Thinking of You” for its rhythmic bottom (co-written by bassman Dave Hiltebrand) and the way Nick just prances about atop it. “If You Ask Me” brings the tempo back up and has a smooth feel that comes from being co-written by smooth jazz icons Peter White and Steve Cole. Steve Cole also co-wrote and performed multiple instruments on the urban-tinged jammer “Liquid”.

Nick’s more laid-back side comes out on the smooth chordal delight “You Were There For Me”, as it does on “From Me to You” and the Bob-James-esque “A Moment With You” which Colionne penned with his keyboardist extraordinaire Mike Logan.

Colionne breaks out some hidden vocal talent on his soulful rendition of the Brooke Benton hit “Rainy Night in Georgia”, I saw him do this one live and he’s really singing his heart out – watch out Bublé! The CD ends with a live rendition of Nick’s radio hit “High Flyin” which shows the difference between Nick on CD and Nick live… Nick on CD is good, but Nick live is the reason we love him so much.

Throughout this release Colionne continues to show the growth and maturity in style and song selection that have allowed him to prove the haters wrong and ascend the ever-so-crowded ladder of jazz guitarists to a point of recognition, of appreciation, in the jazz world. “Keepin’ It Cool” is another step on that ladder, another generation in the evoluton that is Nick Colionne’s career. Already the continued style and growth have stopped some of the inevitable comparisons to George Benson and Wes Montgomery (despite my own comments). If Nick Colionne’s style and personal flair continue to develop he will soon have others being compared to Nick Colionne. Go get the CD and enjoy yourself.