Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

227

Tom Harrell: Roman Nights

By

Sign in to view read count
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 that can be initially overlooked, but which make for sustained originality. The tunes become deeper and more absorbing as the disc goes on.



Harrell has said that he feels the trumpet is the closest instrument to the human voice, and, though cellists and tenor saxophonists might disagree, in his hands it becomes so. Newsweek hails him for his melodic genius, the Penguin Guide for harmonic sophistication, and in the liner notes to Roman Nights, he credits Dizzy Gillespie with educating him to the subtleties of rhythm. That's all here, but his compositional facility, as on many of his earlier recordings, is also most noteworthy. These originals are not throwaway tunes; they tackle contemporary hard bop, creating fresh approaches—twists and turns that keep the improvisers on their toes.



The up-tempo wisp of a line on "Storm Approaching," punctuated by drummer Johnathan Blake, goes by in a flash before digging into the improvisations. "Let The Children Play," made up of a few minimal riffs, is an infectious song that stays in the memory in a good way. The duo acoustic ballad, "Roman Nights," offers a reflective Harrell, and a particularly gorgeous solo from pianist Danny Grissett.



Yet, it isn't until after these three opening tunes that the CD really takes off. By "Study In Sound," Grissett's Fender Rhodes adds a sense of otherworldly mystery. The floating, absolutely intriguing "Harvest Song" develops out of its own logic—like Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti," Thelonious Monk's "Misterioso," or, for that matter, Leonard Cohen's "Alexandra Leaving." Throughout, Grissett's solos are marvels of light and touch, revealing a thorough knowledge of the tradition but not sounding at all derivative; he knows his voice.



Tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery is another player who can't be mistaken for anyone else. His often sticky, legato lines compliment a large sound, unlike the tight-embouchure derived tone of many current tenor players. Harrell's secret weapon, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, has been with the trumpeter for over 12 years. Instead of putting down a background of separate, clearly articulated notes, Okewgo provides a broad bottom that seems, say, like Howlin' Wolf's voice, to emanate from the earth itself. It's there and it's a mighty, profound presence, a deep churning force of relentless forward momentum.



Roman Nights is another step forward in sustaining the extraordinary level this band achieved on its first two HighNote releases, Light On (2007) and Prana Dance (2009).


Track Listing: Storm Approaching; Let the Children Play; Roman Nights; Study in Sound; Agua; Obsession; Harvest Song; Bird in Flight; Year of the Ox.

Personnel: Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery: tenor saxophone; Danny Grissett: piano, Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Johnathan Blake: drums.

Title: Roman Nights | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: HighNote Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Swinging In The Holidays CD/LP/Track Review Swinging In The Holidays
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Cycles of Animation CD/LP/Track Review Cycles of Animation
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Secret Passages CD/LP/Track Review Secret Passages
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Live At The Magic Triangle CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Magic Triangle
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 11, 2017
Read Music in the Room CD/LP/Track Review Music in the Room
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Of Light and Shadows CD/LP/Track Review Of Light and Shadows
by Phillip Woolever
Published: December 9, 2017
Read "Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere" CD/LP/Track Review Kinfolk: Postcards From Everywhere
by Mike Jacobs
Published: July 15, 2017
Read "I Try To Remember Where I Come From" CD/LP/Track Review I Try To Remember Where I Come From
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 30, 2017
Read "A Cast of Thousands" CD/LP/Track Review A Cast of Thousands
by Duncan Heining
Published: August 30, 2017
Read "Conversations" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 15, 2017
Read "My Foolish Heart" CD/LP/Track Review My Foolish Heart
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 3, 2017
Read "Days Are Not Days" CD/LP/Track Review Days Are Not Days
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 20, 2016

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!