Mallet Head Concert to Benefit West Seattle High School Scholarship Fund

My quartet will be performing @ Kenyon Hall in West Seattle on October 21st to raise $$$ for the WSHS Scholarship Fund. Performing with me in the band are three exceptional world-class musicians who happen to live in the Seattle area including guitarist Dr. John Hanford, electric bassist and WSHS class of '71 Dan Dean, and drummer Steve Korn. John Hanford, whose PhD dissertation explored the guitar techniques and music of Jimi Hendrix (I was on his graduate reading committee at the UW), has played in many of the nation's top rock and pop bands including The Wailers, Merilee Rush, and others too numerous to mention here. Dan Dean got his start playing percussion in Mrs. Nelson's Senior Orchestra at Madison Jr. High School before launching a career in music performing with such luminaries as Donny Hathaway, Della Reese, Freddie Hubbard, Ernestine Anderson, and many more. Steve Korn was for many years an artist-in-residence at the University Of Washington before leaving to concentrate on his very successful photography business. Steve has released three CDs internationally of his own compositions on the Origin label and each was nominated as Northwest Recording of the Year by Earshot Jazz. Steve won the Earshot Golden Ear Award for Northwest Emerging Artist for the year 2000. At Kenyon Hall, we'll be playing our arrangements of pop and blues songs as well as a couple of jazz standards and original compositions.

I am pleased to be able to participate in this special concert as a way of paying back the school that provided me with a world-class education and life skills needed to succeed in my own career. Please mark this date down on your calendars and if possible come to Kenyon Hall to enjoy an evening of music while supporting a young generation of future leaders, scientists, engineers, doctors, and artists. Seating space in Kenyon Hall is limited, so be sure to make early reservations by visiting: or calling 206-937-3613.

Mallet Head Series Continues in New Venue

After closing out my Mallet Head Series concerts at Meany Hall on the University of Washington Campus, I have a new venue for the series: Kenyon Hall in West Seattle. Kenyon Hall is an historic landmark with great acoustics and a warm, family friendly atmosphere. The next Mallet Head Concert is scheduled for Saturday, February 25th, 7:30pm. For more information, check out my calendar page, or go to:

New Tom Collier album released!

Tom Collier's new album, Impulsive Illuminations, was released on November 18th (2016) on Origin Records. This was his seventh release on the internationally acclaimed label. Impulsive Illuminations is the third and final project partially funded by a University of Washington Royalty Research Grant and features several prominent artists including guitarist Bill Frisell, clarinet legend Bill Smith, trombone icon Stuart Dempster, rising star trumpeter Cuong Vu, drummer Ted Poor and pianist, avant-garde composer, Richard Karpen. The music on this album is markedly different from Collier's other Origin recordings in that every note on each of the album's five tracks was spontaneously improvised. "Although I would not classify this album as jazz, there are obvious jazz influences throughout the recording that intertwine with abstract prefixes. I have always enjoyed the art of improvisation in live performance, but Impulsive Illuminations is my first recording showcasing my fascination with avant-garde improvsation ideals."

New Appointment: Professor Emeritus in Jazz Studies at the University of Washington

Tom Collier, who retired from the University of Washington on June 15th after 36 years as Director of Percussion Studies, has been appointed Professor Emeritus in Jazz Studies beginning June 16th by the College of Arts And Sciences and the School Of Music. He will return part-time to the classroom in late September to teach "History of Jazz" for non-music majors as well as a new course in the history of the recording industry, "Cylinders to Platters: 100 Years of Significant Recorded Music 1880-1980" beginning Winter Quarter 2017. "I only have to work 50 minutes a day without having to serve on committees or attend faculty meetings, so this will be a good way to keep my brain engaged and stay connected to the UW community. And best of all, I get to talk about jazz history and maybe inspire a few students to become lifelong supporters of the music."

Final Mallet Head Concert at the University of Washington

Tom Collier presented his final Mallet Head Concert at the University of Washington on May 27th to a packed Studio Theater audience in Meany Hall. Featured on the program were three of Collier's favorite musical cohorts including pianist Marc Seales, electric bassist Dan Dean and drummer Moyes Lucas, who traveled from Los Angeles to take part in Collier's final UW concert. With three weeks to go before retirement, Collier chose selections from various parts of his career and ended the performance with a solo vibraphone rendition of "At Last". A reception, attended by over 100 close friends and relatives, was hosted by the UW School of Music.

Tom Collier Across The Bridge CD Released On November 20th

Tom Collier's new Origin album, Across The Bridge, was released on November 20th. The recording features Tom paired up with two of the most creative guitarists in jazz, Larry Coryell and Bill Frisell. Coryell is considered one of the pioneers of jazz-rock (some call it fusion) performing and recording with vibraphonist Gary Burton's rock-inspired band in 1967-68. His own genre-defining recording, Spaces in 1969, further cemented his mark as one of the world's greatest electric guitarists. Like Coryell, Bill Frisell is also considered one of the world's leading electric guitarists. He has recorded with a wide variety of artists ranging from Nora Jones to Elvis Costello to Dave Holland and Elvin Jones. Bill has released more than 30 albums under his own name ranging in styles from bluegrass and country to progressive jazz. His latest album, Guitar In The Space Age celebrates the great rock & roll instrumentals of the 1960's.


Considering vibraphonist Tom Collier performed his first concert at age 5, it's safe to say most memories of his youth contain powerful musical imagery. For his Across The Bridge recording, Tom reflects on his early years when his family lived on the other side of the West Seattle Bridge. Through a set of 9 originals inspired by places and recollections, they rekindle some of that youthful fire.


Across The Bridge was produced by Dan Dean, Collier's longtime musical cohort of more than 50 years. The album also features Dean on electric bass and electric guitar along with nationally prominent drummers Ted Poor and John Bishop. The album is the second of three recording projects funded by the Royalty Research Fund from the University of Washington where Collier is Professor of Music and Director of Percussion Studies. The first project, Alone In The Studio, was released on Origin Records in April, 2015 and has received much radio airplay and excellent reviews in various jazz publications including Jazziz, All About Jazz, and Earshot Magazine. Alone In The Studio has been placed on the 2016 GRAMMY Awards ballot for "Best Instrumental Jazz Album". Collier's third UW RRF project will be released in November 2016 on the Origin label.

Track listing for Across The Bridge:

1. The Junction

2. Beach Drive

3. Gold 'N' Blues

4. The Admiral's Point Of View

5. 47th 'N' Hudson

6. Genesee

7. Harmonious Effusion On Olga Street

8. Fauntleroy Mist

9. Across The Bridge


October Mallet Head Concert To Feature Pianist  Dawn Clement

The first Mallet Head concert of the University of Washington School of Music's 2015-16 concert series will feature vibraphonist Tom Collier and pianist Dawn Clement, a nationally recognized rising star in jazz. The performance will be held on the UW campus in Meany Studio Theater on Friday, October 30, 7:30pm.

Dawn has played with some of the brightest luminaries in contemporary jazz and has appeared at prestigious venues across the globe. Her accolades have been numerous. Highlights include invitations to play at the Mary Lou Williams Piano Competition at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC and the International Martial Solal Jazz Piano Competition in Paris. In addition to her busy international performing schedule she is an adjunct instructor at Cornish College of the Arts, where she also received her Bachelors of Music.

The concert will include several of Dawn's compositions as well as arrangements of a mixture of jazz standards and popular songs. Tom and Dawn will be joined by electric bassist Dan Dean and drummer Steve Korn. Tickets are $20 ($10 for seniors and students) and can be purchased at the door or the Arts UW Ticket Office.

For further information, visit:

March Release For New Tom Collier Solo Album

 Alone In The Studio, a new album by Tom Collier, was released on the Origin label on March 17th. The recording features Tom performing original compositions and jazz arrangements of popular songs on a variety of instruments using overdubbing techniques. The album is the first of three recording projects funded by a University Of Washington Royalty Research Grant, one of two awarded to School of Music faculty. The other two projects will be released later this year and early 2016.


 While the vibraphone is the showcase instrument on the album, Collier also plays marimba, piano, drums and synthesizer bass on most of the selections. The set list for the album (composer in parenthesis):


  1. Little Green Thing (Dave Lewis) – solo vibraphone, no overdubbing
  2. Lines (Larry Coryell) – solo vibraphone, no overdubbing
  3. Double Bars (Tom Collier) – vibraphone, marimba, piano, drums, synthesizer bass
  4. Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (Landesman / Wolfe) vibraphone, drums, synthesizer bass)
  5. Five Brothers (Gerry Mulligan) vibraphone, drums, synthesizer bass
  6. God Only Knows / Here, There, & Everywhere (Brian Wilson / Lennon-McCartney) vibraphone, drums, synthesizer bass
  7. Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise (Romberg – Hammerstein) vibraphone, drums, synthesizer bass
  8. Anyone Who Had A Heart (Bacharach – David) vibraphone, marimba
  9. Alone (Tom Collier) vibraphone, marimba
  10. Orbital Dance (Tom Collier) vibraphone, marimba, synthesizer


Royalty Research Grant Will Result In Three New Album Projects For 2015-16

Tom Collier was awarded a Royalty Research Grant from the University of Washington to produce three new album projects to be released in 2015-16. The first project entitled Tom Collier: Alone In The Studio will be released on the Origin label in March, 2015. This recording features Tom performing alone in three formats: solo vibraphone, vibraphone and marimba duet, and group setting with Tom playing vibes, marimba, piano, synthesizer bass and drums through the process of overdubbing.

The second project represents a new musical direction for Tom featuring avant-garde free-form improvisations in a trio format featuring vibraphone or marimba with piano (performed by Dr. Richard Karpen) and several guest artists including guitarist Bill Frisell, trombonist Stuart Dempster, clarinetist William O. Smith, trumpeter Cuong Vu, and drummer Ted Poor. "I've made jazz albums featuring original compositions in jazz fusion styles, straight-ahead bop formats, duos, trios, quartets, and quintets. I've also recorded two classical albums as well as having played on dozens of pop projects as a percussionist. But, I've never made an abstract, avant-garde recording even though I have had extensive experience performing contemporary music in concert with brilliant improvisors including Stu Dempster and Bill Smith who are on this album. I'm especially looking forward to this project." The avant-garde album will be released later in 2015 with more details on exact dates forthcoming.

The third recording project will be recorded in the Spring, 2015 with specific details also forthcoming.

Watch this space for more information on these exciting new projects!


August 2014 Release for Sleek Buick, the New Collier & Dean album

After a long wait, Tom Collier and Dan Dean will release their second band album this August on the Origin label. The new album, Sleek Buick, features several well-known musicians including pianist Don Grusin, drummer Alex Acuña and saxophonists Ernie Watts and Gary Herbig, all of whom played on Collier & Dean's first album, Whistling Midgets (1981). Other guest artists include trumpet virtuoso Allen Vizzutti, guitarist John Morton, Nashville mandolin/fiddle studio ace Andy Leftwich and rising star drummer Ted Poor.

To preview one track from the album, visit:

Track list for the album, composer in parenthesis:

1. Sleek Buick (Dean)

2. California Avenue (Collier)

3. WMB's (Dean)

4. Touching (Collier)

5. Lettercollum/Paris (Grusin)

6. A Corona Haze (Collier)

7. Playas de Rosarita (Collier)

8. Mallet Tech (Collier)

9. Ethiopian (Grusin)

10. Walkin' In My Old Shoes (Dean)

The album was recorded over several sessions between October, 2013 and March 2014 at Studio X (Seattle), London Bridge (Shoreline) and Dan Dean Productions (Mercer Island). Reed Ruddy and Dan Dean engineered the recordings.


New Collier & Dean album planned for 2014

Tom Collier and Dan Dean will begin working on a new album this summer that will feature a reunion of the group that recorded the duo's first album in 1980, Whistling Midgets. Famed drummer/percussionist Alex Acuna and pianist Don Grusin will join Collier and Dean in the studio to record several new compositions as well as performing a pre-album release concert at the University of Washington in late October (date TBA). Collier & Dean's new album will also feature duo (vibes and electric bass) performances and several other guest artists TBA. Their last album, Duets, was recorded in 2004 for Origin Records and received international critical praise as well as an Earshot Magazine nomination for best jazz recording by a Northwest group (see Press Reviews page). More information regarding the album release date and pre-release concert will be forthcoming.

New Classical Album Released (5/15/12)

After a few delays, my new album, Tom Collier Plays Haydn, Mozart, Telemann, and Others, was released May 15th on the Origin Classical label. All but two of the pieces on the album were originally composed for two violins. I arranged each piece for vibraphone and marimba, splitting the first and second parts between the two instruments, not always having one instrument playing the same part from beginning to end. Both parts were recorded via the process of overdubbing, a laborious task since it wasn't practical to utilize click tracks to synchronize the two parts due to the various tempo changes, ritards and accelerandos in the music.

Transcriptions of classical music for marimba and xylophone have been around for almost a century. Recordings of Mozart's Bell Solo from The Magic Flute were made in the early part of the 20th century by xylophonists Albert Benzler and Charles Daab while George Hamilton Green performed and recorded Fritz Kreisler's Caprice Viennois and Franz von Suppe's Light Calvary Overture in the 1920's. My first encounter with classical music for marimba occurred in the late 1950's when I learned to play Sammy Herman's transcriptions, some of the only music available for mallet instruments at the time.

Although my attention turned to jazz and avant-garde contemporary music during the 1960's I never forgot my early experiences with the Bach and Mozart transcriptions that I played in elementary and junior high school. When I arrived in Los Angeles in the mid 1970's, I was re-introduced to classic mallet transcriptions through Emil Richards and Earl Hatch who conducted sight reading sessions in their respective studios for local mallet players. Hatch especially had an extensive personal library of transcriptions of string quartets, trios and duos that were a real challenge to sight read, not to mention taking the time to learn the pieces (which none of us did).

After recording my previous album of original contemporary marimba/vibraphone compositions (non-jazz) for Origin Classical in 2009 (Mallet Fantastique, Origin OC-3309), I decided after thirty years of "thinking about it" that I would record some of the classical duets that I enjoyed playing with my Los Angeles friends. The project also brought me back to my earliest marimba playing experiences performing transcriptions of classical music - the music I grew up learning to play over fifty years ago.