With all the media attention being given--and deservingly so--to hot young firebrands like trumpeter Christian Scott, it's easy to overlook the older cats who've been quietly building a life's work where the only thing predictable is unfailing creativity. Tom Harrell may have turned 65 earlier this year, but he's still playing with the vigor of a man half his age, while benefiting from the wisdom that grows as the years pass, with little left to prove but plenty more to say. For The Time of the Sun--the trumpeter's fourth HighNote record in five years, with Roman Nights released just twelve ...read more
Roman Nights, trumpeter Tom Harrell's third release with his hardworking quintet of saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake, is an all-original set that maintains the highest standards of composition, small-group arranging and improvisation. Harrell is a paragon of restraint, each note carefully chosen, each phrase finely balanced, seducing with the sheer magnetism of his melodies, while Escoffery lets loose torrents of ideas that topple over each other with brassy bluster.
On Let the Children Play," the tenor's serpentine lines are chock-a-block with inventive turns and exhaustively explored motifs as the trumpet's mellow, pure ...read more
Since signing with the HighNote label in 2006, Tom Harrell has released the most significant CDs in his three decades-plus of recording. It's no coincidence that, for this same period, he has been leading a true dream band of younger players. His previous output for RCA was of the highest quality, particularly Paradise (2001), a unique date with strings, and the exemplary Live At The Village Vanguard (2002). Lately, Harrell sounds more intensely engaged than ever, and thoroughly enjoying the constant growth and challenges of his music.
Roman Nights reveals all sorts of tasty quirks and dynamics--detailed touches ...read more
Since coming back from hiatus following the superb Wise Children (Bluebird, 2003), Tom Harrell's been on a roll. On a new label (HighNote) and with a new working quartet, the trumpeter has gone from success to success, from the undeniably fine Light On (2007), to the even better Prana Dance (2009). Whether Roman Dances is even better still is a tough call; Harrell's writing and quintet are so uniformly excellent that comparisons--empirical or otherwise--are rendered moot.
There's plenty that resonates on Roman Nights, where the one thing that is certain is that the chemistry amongst the ...read more
Tom Harrell Quintet Dazzle Nightclub Denver, CO February 11, 2010 (First Set)
My wife arrived early for the show, before me. Most of the nearly sold out crowd had yet to arrive. The maître'd offered her a table in the front. She declined stating, No thanks, since this is a trumpet player, I'd like to sit further back." She needn't have worried. There was little that was shrill or piercing about Tom Harrell's playing; and that wasn't just because he only played his flugelhorn Thursday night, forsaking his trumpet for the entire set. ...read more
Following up his 2007 effort Light On (HighNote), trumpeter Tom Harrell continues to document his original compositional voice and uncommonly tight working band with Prana Dance. Again there's the youthful, hungry lineup of tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett and drummer Johnathan Blake, with long-serving Harrell stalwart Ugonna Okegwo digging in on bass. The material is all original, all new, teeming with harmonic secrets and an uncanny marriage of the simple and complex, not to mention ample possibilities for elaboration in the live setting--as the band proved during a galvanizing Thursday night set at New York's Village Vanguard in ...read more
Tom Harrell is an exceptional musician, known for his exquisite playing on trumpet and flugelhorn as well as for the many lyrical melodies, expressive harmonies and undeniably beautiful music he has composed for some 40 years and, happily, counting. Many famous colleagues, orchestras and big bands have recorded his original compositions and arrangements and among jazz aficionados, Harrell's history is as well known as his gifts. He has distinguished himself as a performer with many renowned groups and legendary artists as well as leading his own groups, including his current quintet which recently released a new CD, Prana Dance (HighNote). ...read more