It’s easy to hear why. First of all, Stranahan lets the music dictate his approach to the drumming, rather than employing the same technique, or similar elements of style, in all of his playing. And second of all, the music that Stranahan brings to life is his own, four of the six tracks on Dreams Untold being his compositions.
His first original tune, after Coltrane’s "26-2," is "Romaine’s Groove," a twisting and backbeat-driven theme propelling a repetitive lick stated by Kenny Warren’s trumpet and Michael Bailey’s tenor sax. With infectious funk, on-the-mark halts and liquidity of phrasing, both of the hornmen, like Stranahan, let the nature of the music drive their solos. And they, Stranahan’s elders at 19 years old, are as precocious and immersed in the flow as he.
Perhaps intentionally, Stranahan varies the music to reflect alternative moods the initial metrical freedom of "As If The Dream Were Untold," inspired by a nightmare revealed in three-four time, is entirely removed from the hard bop sensibility of "Now I’m Up," its blues origins allowing for final improvisation by Stranahan’s group. And Stranahan makes interesting choices, like laying back on "The Arrival" and then combining swing with a feeling of three within. Even though pianist Jeff Jenkins (the most experienced member of Stranahan’s septet) stands out on the piece he wrote, "The Arrival," a ballad for piano trio played in straight four behind which Stranahan brushes, it does become evident, despite the drummer’s subtlety, that this is a drum-led CD. Even as the horns are playing, Stranahan is driving them, and it’s impossible to ignore his propulsion and tasteful embellishment of the performances, which would have been certainly less colorful without the spark plug of a drummer synchronizing all of the cylinders of his band.
And so, the advice is thus: Forget about the age of the musicians. Sit back and enjoy the music of Dreams Untold, which is as polished and invigorating at times as that of better-known groups. And think of the many more years of enriching music that Colin Stranahan may provide.