Tim Collins “Fade” (three stars)
Collins specialises on vibraphone but is also an all-round performer on tuned percussion and drums. On the young New Yorker’s second album as leader the instrumentation may suggest a jazz group, but the result is basically just a set of vocal-less, eclectic rock tunes. That sounds like it could be a definition of post-jazz. Yet it’s from this structure that more familiar jazz improv occasionally springs. The rhythm section is made up of Charlie Hunter, unusually on electric bass, and Hunter’s recent trio sideman, the drummer Simon Lott. Hunter’s involvement may suggest some serious jam band shenanigans, but this is far from it. Instead the album points more towards the un-macho, post-rock sensibility of bands such as Sonic Youth, Stereolab and Tortoise, Steve Reich-like loop music, and classic late 60s rock such as Neil Young or the Beatles. But Collins’ layering of vibraphone coupled with arrangements for string quartet gives the album a lighter, almost chamber jazz feel at times. Collins, like Hunter, is interested in building sonic layers with an un-gimmicky use of fuzz guitar-like electravibes, glockenspiel, one-note-at-a-time piano and electronics. Only ‘Saddlebags’, a bluesy funk, shuffling Milt Jackson tribute, shows any inclination towards time-honoured jazz, in which Collins soloing on vibes demonstrates he can also conceive ideas on the fly. Lacing jazz instrumental freedoms with the sonic gestures and devices of contemporary rock music isn’t easy and can often lead to a “worst of both worlds” scenario. But Collins has got it just about right here and made some pretty cool music in the process.
-Selwyn Harris (Jazzwise Magazine, September 2008)