The State of Origin Classical 2010: Idit Shner, Yumiko Endo Schlaffer and Tom Collier

C. Michael Bailey By

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Seattle-based Origin Arts has carved out an impressive niche in the jazz market with an edgy stable of regular musicians and some equally edgy releases. In April 2008, Origin Arts inaugurated the Origin Classical Label with the Seattle Trumpet Consort's After Baroque: Music for the Natural Trumpet.

Since then, the label has released six recordings, including Linda Tsatsanis and John Lenti's And I Remain: Three Love Stories and Daniel Berry's Music of the Spheres. While not abandoning the standard classical repertoire, Origin Classical is nevertheless concentrating on modern artists and their compositions.

Idit Shner and Yumiko Endo Schlaffer

Fissures: 20th Century Music for Saxophone and Harp

Origin Classical


Multi-reedist Idit Shner made quite a splash with her debut recording, Tuesday's Blues (OA2, 2009). On that album, Shner led a straight- ahead quartet through some not so straight-ahead arrangements of traditional Jewish music. On Fissures she joins harpist Yumiko Endo Schlaffer in presenting 20th century compositions for saxophone and harp. The format is not so different from the classical violin sonata (pairing the violin with piano). That is, in theory. What actually evolves in these modern compositions are sound tomes, instrumental conversations between two culturally different instruments.

Shner plays all the saxophones save for the baritone. She capably handles the behemoth bass saxophone on two pieces, Rokus de Groot's "Cadenza" and Philippe Di Betta's "Fissures." Shner coaxes a muscular tone from the large horn, approaching the came capability Gerry Mulligan had with his baritone. Schlaffer's harp provides a lace foil to Shner's reedy rasp. Far from a simple harmonic instrument, the harp here is used for ornamentation and counterpoint, an oddly disconcerting counterpoint. This is intimate chamber music: introverted and considerate. In a market where it is hard to stand out, Shner and Schlaffer have precious little trouble lighting the area with their considerable talent.

Visit Idit Shner and Yumiko Endo Schlaffer on the web.

Tom Collier

Mallet Fantastique

Origin Classical


Mallet percussionist Tom Collier finally educates listeners on the difference between the vibraphone and marimba: it is the sound. These mallet-driven instruments make a great alternative to the piano, both in solo and ensemble settings. They are rich instruments, the vibraphone with its resonant presence and the marimba with its organic woodiness. Mallet Fantastique houses six extended compositions for mallets that Collier recorded between 2004 and 2009. Like Fissures, this is the new chamber music, not too flashy, but certainly well considered.

The disc opens with Collier's 2007 composition "Marimba Fantastique," in which he presents the full tonal range of the marimba, from its near-vibrophonic reverb to its flattest wooden base. "Three Scenes for Vibraphone and Marimba," from 2005, pit the instruments side-by-side. The tones are different enough to keep things both creative and interesting. Collier's harmonic and melodic sense is well developed and displayed on this suite and on his 2009 "Vibescape or Solo Vibraphone." This latter composition possesses a dreamy quality, like honey and quaaludes. It is as light and rich as whipped cream. The closing "Radio Galop" is a real treat that highlights Collier's grand technical ability. Mallet Fantastique is a very listenable recording that is far enough off the beaten path of music to be both novel and essential.

Visit Tom Collier on the web.

Tracks and Personnel

Fissures: 20th Century Music for Saxophone and Harp

Tracks: Une fleur sur l'Etang I, Dedicace; Une fleur sur l'Etang II, La nuit; Une fleur sur l'Etang III, Le fleur; Ofaerufoss; Capricho Mediterrsneo; Elegy; Cadenza; Sonatine, Hommage a Mozart I; Sonatine, Hommage a Mozart II; Sonatine, Hommage a Mozart III; Hiraeth; Fissures; Romance I, With Love; Romance II, Cheerfully; Romance III.

Personnel: Idit Shner: saxophones; Yumiko Endo Schlaffer: harp.

Mallet Fantastique

Tracks: Marimba Fantastique; Three Scenes for Vibraphone and Marimba: Nordica Hills, Cedar Park After Dark; Pink Skies Over Carnaby; Cross Bars; Duettino Improvisando for Vibraphone and Marimba; Vibescape for Solo Vibraphone: Nocturne, Space, Rondo.

Personnel: Tom Collier: vibraphone, marimba.



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