Director of percussion studies at the University of Washington School of Music from 1980 until his retirement from the UW in June 2016, professor Tom Collier has performed and recorded with many important classical, jazz, and popular artists, in addition to recording and performing with his own jazz group. He is a veteran of more than 50 years in music — his first public appearance was at age five, on xylophone, and his first professional performances were made as a nine-year-old marimba virtuoso.
Tom has appeared in concert and on recordings with many important jazz and popular artists including Eddie Daniels, Ry Cooder, Earl "Fatha" Hines, Bill Frisell, Roger Kellaway, Emil Richards, Don Grusin, Frank Zappa, Victor Feldman, Howard Roberts, Ernie Watts, Dave Holland, Cal Tjader, Shelly Manne, Laurindo Almeida, Buddy DeFranco, Diane Schurr, Peggy Lee, Natalie Cole, Morganna King, Herb Ellis, Bill Mays, Bobby Shew, Ernestine Anderson, Mannheim Steamroller, Sammy Davis, Jr., Barbra Streisand, Johnny Mathis, Olivia Newton-John, The Beach Boys, The Mills Brothers, Della Reese and many more.
In the classical arena, Collier has appeared as guest soloist with the Seattle Symphony, The Denver Symphony, The Bellevue Philharmonic, The Northwest Chamber Orchestra, The Everett Symphony and The Olympia Symphony. He was timpanist in the Los Angeles Repertoire Orchestra in 1976, vibraphonist in L.A. Contempo Four, 1975-77(a modern music ensemble), and timpanist with the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, 1972-73.
Collier has released several albums as leader or co-leader beginning with Whistling Midgets with electric bassist Dan Dean for Inner City Records in 1981. Other albums include Illusion (1988, T.C. Records), Pacific Aire (1990, Nebula Records) and Mallet Jazz (2004, Origin Records). Collier and Dean's 2005 album, Duets on Origin Records, was nominated for "Album of the Year" by Earshot Magazine. An album of original compositions for vibraphone and marimba, Mallet Fantastique, was released in March, 2010 on the Origin Classical label. Another album for Origin Classical was released in 2012, Tom Collier Plays Haydn, Mozart, Telemann and Others, and featured Collier playing compositions for two violins re-arranged for vibraphone and marimba. In 2014, Collier And Dean released their third album, Sleek Buick, on Origin Records featuring several jazz luminaries including drummers Alex Acuña and Ted Poor, keyboardist Don Grusin, saxophonists Ernie Watts and Gary Herbig and trumpeter Allen Vizzutti.
In addition to the above, he has recorded several educational albums for Music Minus One and Studio 4 Music and has presented over 300 jazz concerts in public schools around Washington State for the Arts In Education Program under the auspices of that state's Arts Commission. In 1980, Collier was presented with an "Outstanding Service To Jazz Education" award by the National Association of Jazz Educators, and over the past thirty years, he has won twenty five ASCAP Popular Panel and ASCAPlus Awards for his various jazz and percussion compositions. In 2011, the prestigious Adelaide D. Currie Cole Endowed Professorship in the University of Washington School of Music was awarded to Professor Collier for the academic years 2011-2013. In 2014, he was awarded a Royalty Research Grant by the University to produce three new recordings in three different settings including a solo vibraphone album, an experimental free improvisation trio album, and a recording of original jazz compositions for quintet featuring vibraphone and guitar.
A UW alumnus, Collier graduated from the School of Music in 1971 with a BA/BM in percussion performance.