Busy But Slow Start To 2020
How do I keep busy during a slow music performance start to the new year? Easy. I am teaching a daily course at the University of Washington School Of Music entitled "Cylinders To Platters: 100 Years of Significant Recorded Music 1880-1980". It's a fairly new course that I developed a few years ago, but didn't have time to teach while I was still a full-time professor. After I officially retired in 2016, I finally had time to teach courses I really loved including this one and The History of Jazz which I will teach Spring Quarter. As for live performances, so far I have a private event with the Silver Tongued Devils as well as a public performance with the group at Grumpy D's coffee house, both in January. Several other 2020 performances are "in the works" and will be announced soon. Meanwhile, keep checking my calendar page for updates.
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!
New Solo Marimba Recording Project Completed
The new recording features an eclectic mix of songs ranging from folk to country to jazz-flavored originals - all performed exclusively on the marimba and mostly in one "take". Details for its release will emerge in the next few weeks, but I think it is a very unique record that will appeal to a wide-ranging audience.
Mallet Head Concert to Benefit West Seattle High School Scholarship Fund
My quartet will be performing @ Kenyon Hall in West Seattle on October 12th 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 former Heart drummer Ben Smith. 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. Ben Smith is one of the most respected drummers on the scene today having performed several years with the renowned rock band Heart. He has also played with such notable artists as Taj Mahal, Phoebe Snow, Carrie Coltrane, Deniece Williams, Thom Bell, and many more. At Kenyon Hall, we'll be presenting a program of music from each decade of the twentieth century.
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: http://kenyonhall.org or calling 206-937-3613.
New Tom Collier album released!
My new album, Impulsive Illuminations, was released on November 18th (2016) on Origin Records. This is my eighth 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 my 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. Impulsive Illuminations has been placed on the 2017 GRAMMY Awards ballot for "Best Instrumental Jazz Album".
New Appointment: Professor Emeritus in Jazz Studies at the University of Washington
After 36 years years as Director of Percussion Studies at the Univerity of Washington, I have officially retired as of June 30th, 2016. I have also been greatly honored by the College of Arts and Sciences and The School Of Music with my appointment as Professor Emeritus in Jazz Studies beginning July 1st, 2016. I am absolutely thrilled by this new professorial title and will do my best to live up to it in my retirement from academic life.
Tom Collier Across The Bridge CD Released On November 20th
My new Origin album, Across The Bridge, was released on November 20th. The recording has me 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.
Across The Bridge was produced by Dan Dean, my longtime musical cohort of more than 50 years. The album also features Dan 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 I'm a 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". My 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
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 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. Dawn and I 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.