Wander into the parking lot of a high school marching band field tournament, through a labyrinth school buses and picnic tables, into throngs of young musiciansteenagers in small packs cruising on foot, gossiping, flirting, maybe throwing a football around as a cold November dusk settles inand there always seems to be a backdrop of percussion, impromptu practice sessions, the marimbas and the vibraphones ringing out. It's a sound that carries in the brisk fall air, a sound full of bounce and youthful optimism.
So is the sound of Tom Collier's Mallet Jazz, a marimba and vibes fest of (mostly) straight-ahead tunes.
Five of the nine songs here feature a vibes/marimba front line, with Collier on vibes and Emil Richards hitting the marimba bars, rounded out by piano/bass/drum rhythmMike Lang, Dan Dean, and Joe Porcaro, respectively. Maintaining a brightly up-tempo pace, the group churns ahead, getting funky at times, with Dan Dean using an electric bass that gives the group sound a beefy, modern punch. Two of the tunes feature Don Gruisin on piano and John Bishop on drums, with Collier playing both marimba and vibes, a change in the sonic personality, a bit more laid back while maintaining the same mood.
These are consistently fine mainstream sounds on tunes one through seven, making it nearly impossible to pick a highlight; but "Double Bars," with its prowling Henry Mancini groove, stands out for this ear. Then there's tune #8, "Mutso Futso," a major gear change that brings in clarinetist William O. "Bill" Smith. It's a beautifully abstract, meandering melody that brings Jimmy Guiffre to mind, a masterful little twenty-first century symphony.
I love jazz because next to my kids, it's the love of my life.
I was first exposed to jazz by Joe Rico from a tiny station in Niagara Falls in 1954 when I was 13.
The best show I ever attended was Maynard Ferguson who blew the roof off Massey Hall in the late 50s.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to everything you can and then listen again.