What are they saying?...

album cover


 Percussive Notes Magazine, May 2016: review by John Lane

Vibraphonist Tom Collier performed his first concert at age five in 1954. Sixty some years later, Collier’s nine original compositions on Across The Bridge reflect on his youth on the other side of the West Seattle Bridge. Collier pairs up with famed jazz/fusion guitarists Larry Coryell and Bill Frisell. Produced by Dan Dean, who also plays bass, the album also features drummers Ted Poor and John Bishop.

The album literally hits the ground running with the soaring fusion tune “The Junction,” which features Coryell on electric guitar and a blistering vibe solo by Collier. Youthful energy permeates the whole project, especially with Collier at the helm. His playing is roaring right along with the electric guitars and bass. “Genesee” is the lovely lone ballad, which is the most heartfelt and sentimental reflection on the album. Don’t miss this album. It is a rollicking and spirited good time!

All About Jazz Magazine, March 5, 2016: review by Dan Bilawsky

Ruminations on the past, musical or otherwise, are often weighed down by the sediment of sentiment. But it certainly doesn't have to be that way. Looking back can provide an outlet for the imagination to take control, and vibraphonist Tom Collier seems well aware of that. On Across The Bridge, Collier revisits his youth, delivering nine original numbers that touch on a childhood spent on the opposite side of the West Seattle Bridge from where he currently resides. It's a personalized program that succeeds by avoiding mawkish tendencies and the quicksand of nostalgia. Instead of taking a tenderhearted path to the past, Collier reflects by rocking out with a strong crew of musicians who seem more than willing to have a good time in his world for a while.

The stories on Across The Bridge are brought to life by three different bands, with Collier and bassist Dan Dean serving as the constants between the groups. Four tracks bring guitarist Larry Coryell and drummer John Bishop into the picture, three numbers feature guitarist Bill Frisell and drummer Ted Poor, and two pieces are delivered by the trio of Collier, Poor, and Dean, with the bassist also covering guitar duties to essentially create another quartet. It's to Collier's credit that, despite the personnel change-ups across the album, there's tremendous consistency here.

"The Junction," a chromatically-laced composition with controlled aggression, kicks things off and sets things on a course that essentially remains steady for the entire album. Collier, Coryell, Dean, and Bishop dive headfirst into this heady rock-based music, bringing lots of energy and attitude to the surface. Following that brief opener, the band-shifting begins. The Frisell group comes into the picture to deliver "Beach Drive," a somewhat slinky surf-side song that's far more lighthearted than what came before it; the Coryell clan comes back with "Gold 'N' Blues," the only swing based number on the record; the Dean-on-double-duty outfit joins the party with the slick funk of "The Admiral's Point Of View"; and the Frisell band returns for a riff-fired rocker dubbed "47th 'N' Hudson." In each and every one of those pieces, Collier remains at the center of the action while also creating an atmosphere that encourages interplay and invites his fellow musicians to take chances and step into the spotlight.

The lone ballad on the album—"Genesee"—is the one place where dewy-eyed visions of Collier's past come to color the music. But there's nothing sappy about it, as it plays more like a daydream than a trip down memory lane. After that, the Collier that we've come to know from earlier in the album comes roaring back. "Harmonious Effusion On Olga Street," beginning with Collier's hypnotic sixteenth note riffs on marimba layered beneath Dean's simple and effective guitar, gets the adrenaline going again. Then Collier downshifts for "Fauntleroy Mist," a semi-haunting number perfectly suited to Frisell's sound, and the title track, a rollicking fusion-funk farewell in keeping with the overall vibe of the record. While we'll never know exactly what life was like for a young Tom Collier, it must've been one hell of a wild and colorful ride. At least that's what this music tells us.

Downbeat Magazine, February, 2016: review by Fred Bouchard. ***and1/2 stars

Since 1997, Origin Records has stood steadfast as a bulwark for West Coast jazz and classical musicians, and mallet-meister Tom Collier splendidly fills both categories. As chair of percussion studies at Seattle's University of Washington, he's performed with major symphonies as well as Earl "Fatha" Hines, Frank Zappa, Peggy Lee, and Cal Tjader. (He recently recorded mallet transcriptions of two-piano Mozart and Haydn pieces for Origin's classical division). Here Collier brightly reflects on a well-spent West Seattle childhood, joined by master guitarists Bill Frisell and Larry Coryell (themselves with Seattle roots), who alternate or double with the tart electric plectra of Dan Dean, Collier's musical partner for the past 40 years.

We hear no shortage of notes, ringing arpeggios or positive vibrations in this relaxed and funky set. Of special swagger is the stretch "Beach Drive", which features some stop-time turnoffs for drummer Ted Poor. "Gold 'N' Blues" lopes along with Coryell's bright guitar splashes, and Frisell lashes out on "47th 'N' Hudson". Throughout, Collier tap-dances lightly between woody solos and crisp, whispery comping. The final track sprinkles Asian spice on a bluesy line, and we're home after a scenic ride.

Los Angeles publications (various), February, 2016: review by Scott Yanow.

While many of vibraphonist Tom Collier's originals on his new CD Across The Bridge have titles having to do with traveling and driving (including "The Junction," "Beach Drive," "47th 'N' Hudson" and even "Harmonious Effusion On Olga Street"), and one could imagine listening to this music while riding in a car, this is far from background music. Collier and his group (with Larry Coryell, Bill Frisell or Dan Dean on guitar, Dean on electric bass, and John Bishop or Ted Poor on drums) create stimulating music that rewards those who listen closely.

Tom Collier has been a major vibraphonist for decades. His resume includes associations with many of the major artists in jazz, pop music, classical and rock along with leading quite a few notable albums of his own. He has retained both his enthusiasm for creative music and a very open and distinctive style through the years. And while inspired by his predecessors including Gary Burton and Bobby Hutcherson, Collier sounds unlike anyone else.

The music on Across The Bridge is unclassifiable modern jazz that includes both funky rhythms and straight ahead playing. While Collier is often in the lead and there are memorable solos, he and his sidemen create a colorful group sound and their ensemble work is consistently exciting.

The first of Collier's nine originals is the infectious and funky "The Junction" which is notable for his speedy double-time runs, a quirky theme, and fine solos from Coryell and drummer Bishop. While "Beach Drive" has a catchy bass line that makes the piece danceable, the solos of Frisell, Collier and bassist Dean are far from predictable and contain their share of surprises. The medium-tempo blues "Gold 'N Blues" is a joyful piece that gives the group an opportunity to swing enthusiastically.

"The Admiral's Point Of View" and "47th 'N' Hudson" both feature close interplay by the musicians, along with attractive ensembles and concise solos. The warm ballad "Genesee" and the high-energy "Harmonious Effusion On Olga Street" give this set variety and are equally rewarding.

After the lazy ballad "Fauntleroy Mist," Across The Bridge concludes with the title cut, a passionate strut that features heated statements from Coryell, Dean and the leader.

Across The Bridge is the latest accomplishment in Tom Collier's busy career and is easily recommended as a strong example of 21st century jazz.

 Jazz Weekly on-line magazine, February 11, 2016: review by George W. Harris

Guitar Heaven! Tom Collier: Across The Bridge

Why would I make that headline for an album put together by a guy who plays vibes and marimba? Well, what Tom Collier did was bring in two of today’s most important guitarists, Larry Coryell and Bill Frisell, and even through his bassist Dan Dean for a few swipes at the 6 strings. Then John Bishop and Ted Poor trade off at drums, and yet get some rock oriented jazz, or jazz oriented rock.

Coryell teams with marimba with a toasty “The Junction” a bopping shuffle on “Gold ‘n’ Blues” and create a wind chime along with Collier on “Across the Bridge.” Backed by Poor’s driving beat, Collier swings with a burning Frisell on “Beach Drive” a laid back “47th ‘N’ Hudson” and a lingering “Fauntleroy Mist” with Dean’s bass. Collier’s vibes and Dean’s rock guitar swing well on “The Admiral’s Point of View,” mixing genres of sound.  A creative mix for the rocker who wants to swing, or vice versa.

 KJHK FM Radio, Lawrence, KS, January, 2016: review by Matt Weiman.

Tom Collier is a very impressive vibraphone player and holds nothing back on his album, Across The Bridge. Accompanied by Bill Frisell on guitar, Larry Coryell on guitar, Dan Dean on bass, John Bishop on drums, and Ted Poor on drums, Tom weaves his way magically through nine original compositions. It feels like elevator jazz at times with the vibraphone but it is so much more than that. Collier gets complex with melody lines and grooves.

"The Admiral's Point of View" is one of the more upbeat and funky tracks on the album. Dan Dean, Tom's longtime musical band mate of 50 years, really settles down in the pocket and takes an impressive solo during the middle of the song. Across The Bridge has a very cool feel because of the vibraphone and it is featured in almost every song, including "47th ‘N' Hudson." "Harmonious Effusion on Olga Street" is a very upbeat track and gives the feeling of a chase scene or an escape of some sort. This song feels like it belongs in a scene of a movie. Tom Collier creates a very harmonic melody with guitarist, Bill Frisell and gives justice to the name of the song.

The album finishes with the title track, "Across the Bridge." This song truly brings the whole album into perspective and is a great conclusion. It showcases a little bit of everything that made this album unique. Across The Bridge is a new, different listen from the average jazz album that, with breathtaking grooves, pushes the territory of where jazz can take you.