Tom Collier

Impulsive Illuminations



iTunes - $9.99

MUSIC REVIEW BY Chris Lunn, Ancient Victorys


Vibraphone, marimba, and percussionist Collier expands his recording collection. Here he has just five tunes, 10- to 17- minute cuts, each featuring a valued musical companion. Richard Karpen joins him on piano on each of the cuts. "Impulse Illuminations" is a 15-minute collaboration with electric guitarist Bill Frisell. Piano opens quietly in the mid/low range, descends a bit then gets bold and avant. Vibes touch over the top along with suspended electric. This is modern yet delicate and developing with bolder piano releasing to extended guitar and light vibes underneath. They interplay with the piano the more stable and holding while the guitar wavers; some marimba layers are underneath. There are majestic vibe runs and then superb guitar electronic effects by Frisell; meantime, the piano builds. Later, the vibes become a shimmering challenging dominance, and the guitar provides slow single notes like a suspenseful movie. Toward the twelve-minute mark, there are guitar and light upper piano exchanges, almost watery, and the sound builds to a wall. The piano, with strong modern expressive lines takes over. Guitar is underneath quiet. The piano moves into more classical lines and releases to a quiet end.

"Odious Mode" has Ted Poor on drums as guest artist. Vibes enter delicately with lots of space, almost meditative. No rush, just quiet touching. Collier builds the lines with some angular runs, holds, then a touch of jazz improvisation. He begins to dart with lines, building various rhythms, and the pulse is picked up by the drums slapping yet darting with the sound. Great match between the vibes and drums here. The tension and drive layer and build, the piano roars and rumbles on the low end. Percussion continues to snap and slap in a tour de force. They dart with abrupt bold loneliness. The drums move forward, not louder, just more up front, then the complexity of playing off each other mounts. Piano is almost a rumbling bass line. Drums com forward with quieter darting piano and vibes running over each other. This is very fun, effective, playful and, at times, almost childlike. Karpen booms forward with a low-end drive. The release is to quiet drums just touching, light high-end extension of the vibes, almost invisible piano.

Stuart Dempster, trombone and didgeridoo player, is featured on "Out of the Cistern" with marimba in a mid low solid strike held and didgeridoo touches in a low rumble. This is an outback, mysterious sound, wavering, almost feels to be coming to you from the ground. Very effective. They take this slowly, and eventually the almost elephant squawk signals from the trombone enter. The marimba is wavering underneath. Then a more ballad calling from the trombone starts, teetering on the avant, then the piano takes us right into that area. As the piano goes lower and more avant, the trombone builds in a ballad-form extension; piano is back with very hard striking low-end percussive pulls while the marimba stays below, quiet and wanders with the a quiet extended trombone. Piano takes a more ballad run, trombone almost squawks with a mute feel, the marimba is wavering, echoing in a bass warm line. Again, the piano comes in strong, releasing to light piano at the low end. Very quiet playing going on, almost in wait for the heavy sounds to pounce. More conventional marimba sounds rumble, and then it is almost a meditative talk toward the end as the music wanders in the distance. Very inventive work that all three composed.

"Ligneous Oscillations" features William O Smith on clarinet. The vibes open with Smith's clarinet talking easily, touches of piano helping build and then releasing to a darting, talking clarinet line. Smith becomes more ballad-like and playful. He weaves, stretches, almost squeaking, then goes into the low/midrange. Piano and vibes fill and weave, sometimes stretching forward on this slow, quiet, yet expressive theme. This is called oscillations, but comes across as conversational, darting, overlying exchanges. The darting is fun, playful, and interesting, accessible, not way outside, though the trio uses a lot of angular and modern approaches. The vibes barely make a sound as the piano is just slightly more forceful, and they work back and forth until Smith darts in, at first tentative, then with little bursts of lyrical color across most of the clarinet's range. The piano starts to build chorded, low-end plodding line with space between the chords letting the chords extend. The piano develops a modern line with the vibes layering underneath. They merge, exchange positions, and carry you into a quiet space where Smith uses a vibrating breathing technique to almost squeak the clarinet quietly while the vibes waver in this quiet land.

"Discontinuous Impunity" brings the trumpet work of Cuong Vu. Vibes and piano play light lead, and then this very quiet horn in a narrow wavering sound enters. He is like a buzzing mosquito, building, with the vibes giving him support in this landscape of sound. Trumpet squawks and the vibes quiver. The piano drives on the low-end bold notes, and the trumpet is in the squeakiest narrow edge of sound-talk. Then he releases to a dancing jazz vibes line with a standard trumpet over the top; they are conversational, playing off each other. Then the vibes take off in rapid motion avant. Piano and vibes interchange. They hold, and the trumpet dives in rapid, quick, and quiet notes with dashes of vibes underneath. They dash, build, they release the conversation; again, playful, joyful fun. No blaring, just tight dashes of music. The piano crashes in big bold low-end chords and rapid note rumbling like boogie gone avant. It stops the trumpet, sticks out one note, and then the piano is all high-end talk, vibes barely there in lyrical sound, with just a not or two of trumpet. This builds with rapid trumpet dancing and the vibes doing a similar pattern in response. The vibes and piano build a boldness as the trumpet gets quieter and extends, then darts as things quiet down. Trumpet is just talking with touches of vibes, piano kind of like they are walking away, and then they build a high-end palate of sound. Things go quiet, barely audible, and out. This is a wonderful project, is never hurried, always interesting and modern, and at times very avant and outside improvisational, but all vary accessible. Pure enjoyment for these ears.

Packaging is in a full jewel case with a six-page panel with some project and player history. This has the tunes and times as does the back panel of the jewel case, with contact info also. Unfortunately CD has only the title and players, no songs or lengths and no contact info. Good bold clear back binding info for shelf retrieval.





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