Ringing right in the middle of Duets, the new release by mallet man (vibes and marimba player) Tom Collier and bassist Dan Dean, is the unlikely--for a jazz set--Jagger/Richards tune, "What A Shame." It's an instrumental here, of course, but on the Rolling Stones version, the lyric goes:
What a shame,
nothing seems to be going right...
It's a nice take on the tune, but the sentiment doesn't ring true for Collier and Dean. With this, as well as their last Origin Records release, Mallet Jazz, it sounds like just about everything is going right.
Mallet Jazz featured Collier and Dean teamed with William O. "Bill" Smith (Dave Brubeck), pianist Don Grusin, mallet man Emil Richards, and drummer John Bishop; and it was an upbeat and engaging success. For Duets they've pared down the sound to just the vibes and electric bass, a sound that proves, in their hands, rich and bright and glowingly confident. The sound bounces as the duo shines up songs by Larry Coryell ("Lines"), John Coltrane ("Giant Steps"), Miles Davis ("So What?"), Dave Holland ("Backwoods Song"), and Gerry Mulligan ("Five Brothers"), in additions to four originals.
Both Dean and Collier are educators--Collier has been director of Percussion Studies at the University of Washington since 1980--and both have impressive worked-with/recorded-with resumes as long as your arms. With this simple configuration, they've created a sound that is compellingly different--like the elastic push and pull of electric bass bumping and tugging at the vibraphone radiance--and everything seems to be going just right when they can find the time to record a sparklingly beautiful set of sounds like Duets.