Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

743

A Fireside Chat with Tom Harrell

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
I guess my approach to the trumpet is sort of like flugelhorn in a way because the equipment I use gets a dark sound, but still, the trumpet can have a brightness too.
Tom Harrell is a blessing. Warmth and kindness oozes from his horn playing and from his compositions. His latest for RCA Victor, Time's Mirror, is a big band recording, quite a departure for the trumpeter. I caught up with Harrell in the midst of a nationwide tour to promote his new album. It is an intimate portrait of a "genius" as Horace Silver put it, unedited and in his own words.

FRED JUNG: Let's start from the beginning.

TOM HARRELL: My pleasure. My parents had great records and I would listen. I wanted to play the trumpet and so I started studying trumpet when I was eight years old. I was interested in trying to improvise. I remember I didn't know that much about chords but I wanted to improvise so I would play with other children in the neighborhood. I remember I would organize the group and then try to improve. Then I started to try to learn more about chords and harmony so I could play chords and also I was playing in ensembles in school playing European classical music. But I still wanted to improvise. Then when I was in seventh and eighth grade, there was a group that played jazz, a big band, so I formed my own group then to try to play arrangements. That group started up with three people and then we added members.



FJ: Who were your influences at the time?

TH: The first influence was Louis Armstrong for me and then I started listening to Roy Eldridge and then I listened to Dizzy and Clifford Brown. I heard Clifford Brown when I was listening to the radio in the eighth grade. I tried to maintain his style as well as Blue Mitchell and Clark Terry. Every time I heard someone and I enjoyed their playing, I would begin emulating their style. It wasn't really a conscious effort. I would find myself emulating their style or sometimes I would write down transcriptions or maybe it was a fragment of a solo. Also, I've been influenced by saxophone players. I would try to transcribe some solos by saxophone players as well as trumpet players. The two instruments are kind of intertwined in a way.

FJ: What was it about Clifford Brown?

TH: The main thing was the work and the feeling, such a positive sound and his melodic sense. It was overwhelming to listen to him and such a feeling of joy that was expressed. He has a real full sound.

FJ: Let's touch on your time in the Horace Silver Quintet. You became a member of a formidable fraternity of trumpet players, Blue Mitchell and Woody Shaw.

TH: Thank you. It was an incredible experience, working in his group. I learned so much from him. I'm still learning from him. One thing I learned was his incredible sense of direction and confidence in everything that he did and does. When he'd come into rehearsal and when he would bring in new music, it would be so totally positive. Like sometimes, I played with composers and they apologized. Sometimes people lose their self-confidence, but he always conveyed a feeling of confidence, but it was not in an overbearing way. He's really a friendly, warm person. Everything that he said would be positive. You could see how his music and his life were part of the same thing. He's very spiritual. He lives his music and it's all part of a unity.

FJ: Horace has a healthy sense of humor.

TH: Yeah, he definitely does. That's one of the first things that drew me to his music like for instance his titles and the feeling of humor in his playing when he uses musical quotations to tell a story.

FJ: And your collaboration with Joe Lovano?

TH: He's a great leader too. It's really wonderful playing with him and playing his music. He's very focused too with his music and he lives his music. He told me one day when we would talk about music, he says like things he wanted to play and he wants the music to be loved and do things that have never been done before. Of course, Horace has done things that has never been done before too. They are both great innovators. I think that's the most stimulating thing about both of them. They have created new kinds of music in their playing already.

FJ: To benefit the persons who are not musicians, beyond the obvious appearance, what are the differences between the trumpet and the flugelhorn?

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

In Pictures
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Live Reviews
Album Reviews
Interviews
Album Reviews
Read more articles
Trip

Trip

HighNote Records
2015

buy
First Impressions

First Impressions

HighNote Records
2015

buy
 

Number Five

HighNote Records
2012

buy
 

Audrey

Abeat Records
2011

buy
The Time Of The Sun

The Time Of The Sun

HighNote Records
2011

buy

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Apr16Tue
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35
Apr16Tue
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35
Apr17Wed
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35
Apr17Wed
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35
Apr18Thu
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35
Apr18Thu
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35
Apr19Fri
Tom Harrell: €
Village Vanguard
New York, NY
$35

Related Articles

Interviews
Matt Davis: Big Family, Big Picture
By Dan Bilawsky
March 21, 2019
Interviews
Casey Benjamin: EclectRic Expressionism
By Barbara Ina Frenz
March 6, 2019
Interviews
Cooper-Moore: Catharsis and Creation in Community Spirit
By Jakob Baekgaard
February 26, 2019
Interviews
Susanna Risberg: Bold As Love
By Ian Patterson
February 25, 2019
Interviews
David Crosby: A Revitalized Creativity
By Mike Jacobs
January 22, 2019
Interviews
Chuck Deardorf: Hanging On To The Groove
By Paul Rauch
January 19, 2019