Tom Collier

Alone in the Studio



iTunes - $9.99

MUSIC REVIEW BY Chris Lunn, Ancient Victorys


Collier, a brilliant composer musician on vibraphone, marimba, piano and drums, recorded this entire CD in his own studio, a recording home he has perfected for decades. So he moves easily from solos to entire ensemble pieces showcasing the various instruments he palys. It is inventive and you will feel very much the talent of the writing, arranging, and playing in these eleven tunes.

"Little Green Thing" has lovely, light solo vibes, very lyrical and accessible with grooving flowing runs. Collier builds the ascending and descending run beautifully. Coryell's "Lines" again has Collier just on vibes with quiet lines, a nice set of cascading runs; again he is relaxed and very lyrical taking you inside the melody. The dashing tune is clear and clean. I love the bursts of notes and the accuracy . "Double Bars" features the multiple instruments that Collier plays (he does them all), with the bass and marimba on low-end movement, and then the vibes answer. Collier's piano joins in the call and response. All the instruments weave through the percussion of talking drums; they have a feathery conversation. And then there is a stricter, precise marching line. There is lots of improvisation, and then the vibes drive in a modern 80's feel. This is very strong work, and the bass solo gives a live feel. The vibe takes a run, and then it is back to the head with the marimba, piano vibes, and percussion moving the pulse.

"Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" uses the vibe in a shimmering style. This is not my favorite approach to the vibes, but there are places where Collier produces such a lovely, flowing feel to vibes, I am able to accept the shimmer. Collier moves this in almost a walking, slow movement. The bass comes over the top. Gerry Mulligan's "Five Brothers" really works and is one of my favorites. Drums initiate the movement , and there is a solid direct swing. The crisp notes push the song along and brings it into driving, very strong swing. Collier Solos on the drums, and then they move back to the head. Very creative work.

"God Only Knows" opens the melody with quietly talking lines with moving holds. Then the work goes into McCartney & Lennon's "Here, There, and Everywhere," and you really understand that these writers were creating the jazz standards for a new generation that would meld their music into the jazz field. The music flows, talks and is melodic and expressive and gorgeous. Like the way the bass carries some of the work.

"Softly As In a Morning Sunrise" has Collier open on drums, then the swinging vibes sing out. Then Collier gets into High-speed runs, swoops off the notes, moving up or down effortlessly. Drums and vibes exchange and then back to the head and out. "Anyone Who Had a Heart" has quick notes prevailing, and then the vibes work chords and shimmer a bit. Like the low note hold patterns. The call and response works well also.

The CD closes with three Collier originals, first "Touring to Spring," where he has delicate dancing over the bass. The vibes and piano both run lines and comp. There is a light dance move to the bass. This is flowing ,warm, with a bit of Latin touch. Drums build underneath and release the theme and the vibes. "Alone" has an opening warm viraphone, and the support is warm and moving the theme along. The marimba takes the lead with a bold but not loud movement. Would love to hear more of that marimba tone, voicing ,and movement in this recording. Like the two lead voicings, and the weaving in and out by the instruments. "Orbital Dance" has the funk dancing fusion jazz feel of the 80s. Rapid notes, digging down , and solid bass in that funk-driven mood, propel the lines. Drums help vary the pulse. Lots of imagination and coloration. The tone will catch you for Sure.

Very solid recording, inventive, with this one-man band and composer using his own studio. He makes it all feel alive, lots of real presence, no stilted feel at all. Masterwork from Collier's Mallet Studio. As usual, Origin's packaging is superb with an 8-panel fold out, detailed info on Collier's home studio and history, a look at the tunes and his take and recognition of where the money comes from. Solid photos throughout, and you can read the print easily, the time and tunes are listed on the notes, and also the back of the CD jewel cover. Tune set is printed on the CD but not the ties. Binding is clearly printed with necessary data for rack retrieval. Another fine Origin release with Collier at his best.





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