New 2021 Kenyon Hall Video Concerts
Beginning this Friday October 1st, I’ll be a member of the Jerry Frank Trio for the first time in more than 50 years. This past July, Jerry, Dan Dean, and I reunited a half century after our last “gig” and recorded a video concert at West Seattle’s Kenyon Hall as part of their upcoming October streamed concert series. Instead of playing vibes or marimba however, I hauled out my 53 year-old Rogers drum set and used sticks instead of mallets to make music. I had a blast playing drums for the first time in several years and I might be persuaded to do it again sooner than later.
The concert will become available this Friday at 7pm by linking to the Kenyon Hall Website:
If you can’t “tune-in” this Friday at 7pm, the concert video will be available thereafter on the Kenyon Hall site so you can watch it at your leisure – again and again…
On Friday October 15, a second Kenyon Hall concert video will debut on the Kenyon Hall website (same as above) featuring me on vibraphone and Seattle jazz icon pianist Marc Seales. As with the Jerry Frank Trio video, the Collier-Seales Duo concert will be accessaible anytime after its debut on the 15th at 7pm.
Pandemic News and Update
2020 was the worst year for playing music in front of audiences in my entire 60+ years as a performing artist. The worldwide Covid 19 pandemic completely shut down all music venues and opportunities for live music performance. Especially hard hit, economically and emotionally, were many thousands of musicians not to mention everyone connected to the live music industry. Many music venues closed permanently while others had to rely on federal and state grants to at least pay their bills with the hope of reopening sometime in the future. Unfortunately, the first six months of 2021 mirrored the 2020 shutdown of live music, although there were a few performance opportunities opening up in front of limited audiences by late April and May.
However, virtual music performance opportunities became popular as musicians began streaming their own concerts via YouTube, Zoom, Veeps, and other live video platforms. In July (2020), I participated in the Los Angeles Jazz Society Vibraphone Summit from the comfort of my living room via Zoom, and in August I recorded a solo vibraphone concert video at West Seattle's Kenyon Hall which was streamed on YouTube. Thank goodness for "Tip Jar", software for musicians to encourage virtual audiences to conveniently make a credit card or PayPal payment for streaming a concert. For some musicians, "Tip Jar" became their only source of income for over 18 months (and the pandemic is not completely finished with us yet)!
In my case, I was able to keep busy in a couple of areas; teaching an online History of Jazz course at the University of Washington, and making solo recordings on my brand new Adams marimba in my home studio. More news will be forthcoming regarding the solo marimba recordings, although I am deciding whether to release the music on my own label in a streaming format, or move forward with physical CD's, or even vinyl. It all depends on how quickly live music comes back, or whether another wave of Covid 19 hits us again in the fall.
Last Night of Music At Grinders
The Silver Tongued Devils officially retired another music venue on December 28th as Grinder's Restaurant in Shoreline, WA officially ended its live music series. Grinders will remain open for lunch only. The loss of several important live music venues in the Seattle area over the past year was not an encouraging trend. Highway 99 Blues Club and Tula's Jazz Restaurant were two high-profile music venues who closed their doors in 2019. Ballard's Grumpy D's Coffee House received a one-year reprive from the wrecking ball in 2019, but will eventually meet its demise sometime in late 2020 or early 2021. Owner Dan Kurtz is not looking to find a new location, just like the owners of Highway 99 Blues Club and Tula's. Maybe 2020 will find new opportunities for musicians and audiences to play and hear live music. Meanwhile, please support the venues that still feature music on a regular basis!
Retirement From The UW? - hah!
I officially retired from the University of Washington School of Music in June, 2016. But soon after, I was asked to return to the School to teach the History of Jazz course for non-majors, a course I had taught since 1984. Oh, and could I also begin teaching "Cylinders To Platters", a 300-level course I developed in the 1990's but had little time to squeeze into my full-time teaching schedule. After briefly "researching" the $$$ involved (academic terminolgy for what does it pay), I gladly accepted and "signed up" for post-retirement employment. Here it is near the end of 2019 and I'm still on a post-retirement job having a great time teaching the jazz and platters courses for smart young students with bright futures ahead of them. What could be better than to show up at a world-class institution for an hour each day, walk across a park-like campus, talk about music that I love, and then go on about my private/public musical life without having to attend faculty meetings or serve on School of Music committees! I'll be doing this again at least one more year as I've been "drafted" by the School to teach jazz and platters during the 2020-21 academic year. That will make a total of 45 years at the UW: 4 years as an undergraduate student and 41 as a faculty member. Retirement? Hah...
Busy 2019 Christmas Season
December 14 thru 17 and again on December 27th, I'll be concertising with flutist Jeffrey Cohan and pianist/clarinetist Martin Lund performing unique versions of traditional and popular Christmas songs combining classical and jazz styles. Jeffrey Cohan is a world renowned classical and baroque flute soloist with extensive experience in baroque improvisation. Martin Lund is a northwest musical icon who has equal experience in classical and jazz styles. I bring my mostly jazz career with earlier classical training and performances into this pop/classical/jazz setting. More info will be added as the concert dates approach. On Saturday, December 28th, I'll be featured vibraphonist with one of the finest R&B/soul bands in the northwest, The Silver Tongued Devils at Shoreline's Grinders Italian Restaurant. The group is comprised of several nationally known musicians including bassist/vocalist Tim Scott (!Billy Preston, Dr. John, John Mayall, Jack Mack and the Heart Attack), guitarist John Hanford (longtime member of The Wailers, Monster Road Band), keyboardist Pat Hues (Neil Rush Band, City Zu), and drummer Chris Leighton (Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Ben E. King). Don't miss hearing this band in an intimate setting with first-rate Italian food! Check my calendar for venue information, music starting times, and further concert updates.
New Projects With Vocalist Valerie Rosa
The past few weeks, I've been rehearsing with renowned Seattle vocalist Valerie Rosa - just the two of us, vocals and vibraphone. We are having fun with this unusual pairing and are getting serious about debuting our duo in public. We have produced a couple of low-budget but musically well-done videos and audio recordings to help with promotion. However, I have posted the videos on my audio/video page for you to check out and maybe provide some feedback on the concept of the vocal and vibraphone duo. Keep watching this space for more details regarding performance (and recording?) opportunities. By the way, check out Seattle historian Peter Blecha's excellent article on Valerie at: https://www.historylink.org/File/20848
The Silver-Tongued Devils
If you haven't heard by now, I've been playing rhythm and blues vibes in The Silver-Tongued Devils the past couple of years and not only is it a lot of fun for me, but it is one of the best bands I've had the pleasure to perform with in my career. Adding vibraphone to a rhythm and blues band adds a unique sound to the music, although not entirely new in the scope of R&B history. Vibraphonists Johnny Otis, Lionel Hampton, and Roy Ayers, to name a few, played with or led rhythm and blues bands at various times throughout their careers. The Devils are fronted by ex-Wailers' and current Monster Road guitarist Dr. John Hanford and the band features incredible musicians including bassist/vocalist Tim Scott (The Reputations, Red House, Patti Allen), keyboardist/vocalist Pat Hues, renowned northwest saxophonists Jon Goforth or Jay Thomas (depending on their schedules), and either Chris Leighton or Ben Smith on drums (schedules permitting). Check out my calendar page for upcoming dates with the Devils. Don't miss this exciting and outstanding group of musicians!