Tom Collier

Alone in the Studio



iTunes - $9.99

MUSIC REVIEW BY Tom Morgan, Percussive Notes


Tom Collier has always been interested in recording music. This is obvious when one reads the liner notes to this excellent CD. As the name implies, Alone in the Studio is all Tom Collier playing vibes, marimba, piano, drums, and synthesized bass. He takes all of is past experience in the studio and creates performances of 11 tunes full of variety and musical interest.

The first two tunes, "Little Green Things" and "Lines," are on vibes with no overdubbing. These performances alone establish Collier as an accomplished player. One can hear some Burton influence in his playing, and he is a technical wizard, especially on "Lines," which involves much fast, scale-oriented playing. "Double Bars" involves vibes, marimba, piano, drums, and synthesizer bass. It is a funky shuffle original that prominently features the synth bass and marimba in an octave melodic groove that provides the foundation of the piece. As the tune develops, there are solos on piano and vibes, and he comps for himself on drums and keyboard instruments.

The standard "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" is played on vibes as a traditional ballad, with drums and bass accompaniment. this is followed by another standard "Softly as the Morning Sunrise," with the opening eight bars of the melody played on drums. Collier features himself on vibes and on drums here. Although clearly a strong vibist, he is also a convincing drummer, and his solo is very musical and shows great command of the instrument.

A beautiful arrangement of "God Only Knows" and "Here, There, and Everywhere" opens with a solo vibe statement. Again we hear Collier's beautiful solo vibe approach that is so musical. About halfway through the performance, the bass and drums enter on the Beatles tune. The drums and bass lock in perfectly with the vibes, and they accompany the improvised vibe solo as if three players were playing spontaneously. "five brothers," A Gerry Mulligan standard, features the drum set in this jazz-style performance, with trading fours between vibes and drums.

"Anyone Who Had a Heart" is a duet between vibes and marimba. Collier describes it as "a classic Bacharach tune featuring all of his compositional techniques, making it a challenge for improvisation." There are solos on vibes and marimba, each being accompanied by the other instrument. "Alone" is an original composition that is also a duet for vibes and marimba. These are both wonderful, spontaneous improvisatory offerings.

"Turning To Spring" features an extended vibes solo, accompanied by Collier playing drums and synthesized bass. This may be the strongest tune on the recording, and the vibe solo is very relaxed and musically interesting. The feel is Latin or possibly ECM style, and it flows naturally into a double-time samba feel during the solo section. Again we hear the Burton influence, but also Collier's own style shining through.

The CD ends with "Orbital Dance" for vibes, mallet MIDI controller, keyboard synthesizer, and drum synthesizer. It is described as "a leftover piece of experimental music that I recorded in 1988." Recorded in a basement studioon analog equipment, it is a funky tune that is quite different then the other tracks. Synthesized sounds are used here, including something resembling a steel drum sound, and other. It's a fun way to conclude this exploration into multi-track recording.

This CD will be very enjoyable for anyone interested in what is possible today with digital recording. It is also an excellent showcase for the percussion mastery of Tom Collier. He is truly a wonderful player who deserves more recognition.





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