Tom Collier: Mallet Jazz

Imagine a front line of vibes and marimba-truly mallets in wonderland. On Mallet Jazz (Origin), Tom Collier, percussion-studies director at the University of Washington, and tireless L.A. session man Emil Richards switch between both instruments, backed by bassist Dan Dean and, variously, pianists Mike Lang and Don Grusin and drummers Joe Porcaro and John Bishop. Brubeck alumnus clarinetist Bill Smith makes a guest appearance.

All the tunes are Collier originals, mostly translucent swing. “Double Bars, “Subito Sox” “Jupiter Jump” and the title tune, with great changes, bear his imprint. During “Jupiter,” Dean manages to insert a double-stop quote from Grieg’s “Piano Concerto.” “Mutso Futso in Row 12” features Smith sans vibrato, plus a dodecaphonic exercise that begins fugally with a 12-note motif and ends in a free-form screech. “Pink Skies Over Carnaby,” with Collier improvising on vibes over a marimba ostinato is a definite highlight.