This is an excellent album by one of the finest vibraphonists on the scene today. Tim Collins combines the harmonic adventurousness of Gary Burton with a swinging style reminiscent of Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson.
Castles and Hilltops consists largely of original compositions that run a wide gamut of styles and expressive content. "Army Brat," a straight-ahead swinger, is reminiscent of the Modern Jazz Quartet, when Milt Jackson's vibes would seemingly explode in contrast to John Lewis' astringent piano. "Anchor Song" and "Into the Great Wide Open" are more subdued; the first features an exquisitely impressionistic opening and closing, while the lugubrious opening to the second belies its more volatile conclusion.
The finely-crafted interplay between Collins and pianist Danny Grissett is one of the hallmarks of this album, and is seen to best effect in "The Tunnel," whose chordal beginning seems to be inspired by John Coltrane's "Giant Steps."
Unfortunately, for those living in the United States, Collins has recently moved to Germany, thus limiting opportunities to hear this master musician in his native country. It is all the more important, therefore, that Collins supplies first-rate albums such as Castles and Hilltops.
TNT; Pond; Army Brat; The Anchor Song; The Tunnel; From Above; Into the Great Wide Open; The Tunnel (Reprise).
Tim Collins: vibraphone; Danny Grissett: piano; Matt Clohesy: bass;
Tommy Crane: drums.
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