09 May, 2013Tom Harrell Quintet to Play at Miniaci Performing Arts Center on May 11, 2013

Trumpeter extraordinaire Harrell makes rare S. Florida appeTom Harrell Quintet to Play at Miniaci Performing Arts Center on May 11, 2013 www.miaarance Saturday

Trumpeter Tom Harrell
Trumpeter Tom Harrell

Now tuneful, now intricate, always smartly constructed, the post-bop jazz of trumpeter, composer and arranger Tom Harrell sounds fresh even at its simplest. On any of his excellent recordings, it continues to reveal its layers even after repeated hearings.

One of the finest improvisers in jazz, Harrell eschews flash and well-practiced licks for honest, in-the-moment invention. Possessed of a round, burnished sound, he can fly with power and dazzling clarity, and his ballad playing can be breathtaking.

Raised in California, Harrell, 66, began playing at 8, was jamming around San Francisco by 13 and, after earning a Stanford degree in music composition, did his bandstand learning with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Woody Herman and the Horace Silver Quintet. In New York, he work with masters such as Bill Evans, Lee Konitz, George Russell and saxophonist Phil Woods.

Leading his own ensembles since 1989, he has recorded more than two dozen albums, most featuring his own compositions and arrangements.

Harrell and his excellent quintet — saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake — make a rare South Florida Saturday that’s not to be missed.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/05/08/3386917/trumpeter-extraordinaire-harrell.html#storylink=cpy

30 January, 2013Tom Harrell Quintet to Play in Bilbao, Spain on May 22, 2013 (Spanish)

El teatro Campos Elíseos acogerá cuatro de los siete conciertos programados en la sexta temporada del 365 Jazz Bilbao, organizado por la Fundación Bilbao 700, según ha informado el citado teatro.

El primer concierto del Campos tendrá lugar el próximo 4 de abril -la temporada comienza el 8 de febrero- con la actuación de la cantautora estadounidense Lizz Wright, a quien seguirá Ravi Coltrane, el 30 de abril.

Al mes siguiente, el 22 de mayo, actúa Tom Harrell, reconocido como unos de los músicos de jazz más creativos de la actualidad, y el 5 de noviembre, el trío Medeski, Martin & Wood, considerados como uno de los principales exponentes del jazz alternativo.

30 January, 2013NUMBER FIVE is named in 2012 Jazz Journalists Association "Best of' Lists"

NUMBER FIVE is named in 2012 Jazz Journalists Association "Best of' Lists"

30 December, 2012NUMBER FIVE named in the Top 20 Best Jazz Albums of the Year in 2012

30 November, 2012NUMBER FIVE Huffington Post review

30 November, 2012Chicago Tribune concert review:"Trumpeter Tom Harrell's quintet hits hard from the outset"

Tom Harrell always has been a singular voice on trumpet, a fervently lyrical player with an uncommonly sensitive ear as composer-arranger, as well.

The music he brought to the Jazz Showcase on Thursday night, where he's leading his quintet through Sunday, was a bit more aggressive in character and sharp in tone than listeners might have expected. Yet considering the power and polish of Harrell's band, as well as the intellectual rigor of Harrell's compositions, that was no cause for complaint. Moreover, the lyrical core of Harrell's work shone through.

Harrell and friends came on strong from the start, tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery hitting particularly hard in Harrell's uptempo "Del Centro." Even beyond Escoffery's blistering phrases, though, it became instantly apparent that Harrell is leading a unit that plays with a singular purpose and unremitting emotional intensity. Combine Harrell and Escoffery's muscular front line work with Danny Grissett's full-bodied pianism, Ugonna Okegwo's robust bass and Johnathan Blake's push-the-beat energy on drums, and you had a quintet that did not waste time warming up.

In "Cycles," the two horns articulated the gnarly main theme with considerable finesse, setting the stage for Harrell's first significant solo of the night. Though the trumpeter dispatched various runs and flurries of notes, the melodic elegance of his playing was apparent throughout. Even fast-flying notes carried tonal weight and musical purpose, Harrell shaping series of pitches into beautifully wrought gestures. All the while, pianist Grissett's chord clusters added tension and color to the proceedings.

In lesser hands, Harrell's "Trances" might have devolved into an unintentional parody of funk-tinged back beats, with soloists riffing nonchalantly above them. But the Harrell band mostly avoided cliche, thanks to the copious invention of Harrell's solos, the unrepentant fury of Escoffery's statements and the big-and-brawny accompaniments that Grissett and Okegwo's consistently produced. Many jazz musicians have attempted to create substantive statements in this kind of dance-beat setting; few have done so as effectively as Harrell's quintet.

Though the evening's first set could have used more of the lyric introspection for which Harrell is widely admired, he certainly had a great deal to say in a duet with bassist Okegwo. Playing fluegelhorn in Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now," Harrell took a leisurely tempo, his long-lined phrases couched in a gauzy tone, with empathetic response from Okegwo.

Considering the cohesiveness of this ensemble, the eloquence of its soloists and the high craft of Harrell's compositions and arrangements in the opening set of a four-night run, there could be remarkable listening ahead.

Twitter @howardreich

Tom Harrell Quintet
When: 8 and 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4, 8 and 10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Jazz Showcase, 806 S. Plymouth Ct.
Admission: $20-$25; 312-360-0234 or jazzshowcase.com

19 November, 2012Tom Harrell Quintet Jazz Group to Perform on Dec. 3

The Grammy-nominated Tom Harrell Quintet will perform at Hope College on Monday, Dec. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Harrell has been praised by “Newsweek" for his pure melodic genius, and he is a frequent winner in “Down Beat" and “Jazz Times" magazines’ Critics and Readers Polls. He is also a Trumpeter of the Year nominee two years in a row, for the 2010 and 2011 Jazz Journalists Association Awards. His discography spans more than 260 recordings and his career more than four decades.

Harrell has four successful recordings with the current members of his quintet, which includes tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, drummer Johnathan Blake and his bassist of 12 years, Ugonna Okegwo. “The Time of the Sun" (2012) is the group’s most recent release. The quintet’s previous albums, “Roman Nights" (2010), “Light On" (2007) and "Prana Dance" (2009), were released to wide critical acclaim and won SESAC awards for topping the radio charts in the U.S.

A graduate of Stanford University with a degree in music composition, Harrell is a prolific composer and arranger. Carlos Santana, Cold Blood, Azteca, Vince Guaraldi, Hank Jones, Kenny Barron, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Danish Radio Big Band, WDR Big Band, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra and Arturo O’Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra are among the many who have recorded or performed his work. Harrell’s composition and arrangement, “Humility," was recorded for the latter’s 2008 release, which won a Grammy for the Best Latin Jazz Album.

In addition to the 26 albums and thousands of concerts worldwide as a leader, Harrell has worked with important figures in jazz history including Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Dizzie Gillespie, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Sam Jones (with whom he briefly co-led a big band in the 1970s), Jim Hall and Charlie Haden, and with contemporaries such as Joe Lovano and Charles McPherson. In 2006, Harrell was awarded a Chamber Music America grant with which he composed and performed new pieces for trumpet and piano. He also wrote symphony orchestra arrangements for the French Orchestre National de Lorraine and the vocalist Elisabeth Kontomanou for a live recording album released in 2009, “Siren Song."

Tickets for the Monday, Dec. 3, concert are $10 for regular admission, $7 for senior citizens, and $5 for children 18 and under, and are available at the ticket office in the main lobby of the DeVos Fieldhouse. The ticket office is open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be called at (616) 395-7890. Tickets are also available online at tickets.hope.edu/ticketing/

The DeVos Fieldhouse is located at 222 Fairbanks Ave., between Ninth and 11th streets. Dimnent Memorial Chapel is located at 277 College Ave., on College Avenue at 12th Street.



The opening concert of the Buenos Aires Jazz.12 will feature the quintet led by one of today’s most distinguished jazz trumpeters and composers: Tom Harrell. It will be on Wednesday 21 at 8.30 p.m. at the magnificent concert hall of the Usina del Arte, when this instrumentalist – who has a particular style said to combine the strength Clifford Brown with the lyricism of Chet Baker – will play for the first time in Buenos Aires. Along with excellent musicians such as Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Danny Grissett (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (double bass) and Jonathan Blake (drums), Harrell will perform material from his brand new Number 5, the fifth release in five years with this band, also identified by the number 5. Tickets for this exquisite concert are on sale on this website, or can be purchased in person at Casa de la Cultura, Av. de Mayo 575 (from Mon to Fri, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and at Hard Rock Café, Av. Pueyrredón and Av. Libertador (from Mon to Fri, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturdays, noon-6 p.m.).

28 October, 2012Denver Post: "Jazz in Denver: Jane Bunnet, Tom Harrell, Medeski Martin and Wood"

The Denver-Boulder jazz scene has been on a real roll for the past couple of months, and the opportunity to escape into the realm of creativity has been a true relief from the anxieties of the election season. The legendary Ron Carter brings his quartet to the Boulder Theater tonight, and at the time of this writing there were still some tickets available. What does the rest of the year hold?
Soprano saxophonist and flautist Jane Bunnett is bringing a special project to the Mount Vernon Country Club on Nov. 11, in an evening of Cuban-inspired sounds featuring pianist Hilario Duran and the mesmerizing conga player Candido Camero. The 91-year old Camero is one of the originators of Cuban jazz and acknowledged to be among the first musicians to incorporate the conga drums into its rhythms. An appearance from the NEA Jazz Master is rare just about anywhere as of late, and it's frankly a delightful surprise that he will be performing in Golden.
Bunnett has been a proponent for mixing straight-ahead jazz with Cuban culture for a few decades, and any of her projects exploring the matter are worth seeking out. This is looking to be one of the most promising evenings for Denver-area jazz in 2012, and tickets can be obtained through mountvernoncc.com.
Tom Harrell's trumpet and flugelhorn have added polish to hundreds of recording sessions since he began performing with Woody Herman in the early '70s. Harrell currently leads his own quartet, which has been releasing interchangeably accomplished CDs like this year's "Number Five." Harrell can soar like Dizzy Gillespie and brood like Chet Baker; he's one of the most respected trumpeters in jazz because of his strength and inventiveness. A three-night run at Dazzle Dec. 4-6 will give Denver an opportunity to hear him in the small club environment where he can communicate his ideas on a more intimate level. More info at dazzlejazz.com.
The organ-powered trio Medeski Martin and Wood has remained a consistent concert draw for about 20 years, displaying their chops and eclecticism. Perhaps always a touch too cerebral for the jam band crowd (that's not a slight) they achieve a real earthiness in the company of all-purpose guitar genius John Scofield. So it's to everyone's benefit that they are touring under the banner of Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood, and will be stopping at the Boulder Theater on Dec. 8.
The quartet has released only a couple of titles, "Out Louder" from 2006 and last year's live collection. All of it is noisy fun, with Scofield's distorto guitar pitted against Medeski's effects-soaked keyboard. It's a highly enjoyable collaboration and good news that they seem to have decided to make this group a frequent thing. Get information at bouldertheater.com.
Set list: Drummer Jae Sinnett plays a free concert with his trio at DU's Lamont School of Music at 3 p.m. on Wednesday...flautist R. Carlos Nakai brings his trio to Daniels Hall at Swallow Hill on Saturday... Brad Goode, the fine Colorado-based trumpeter, welcomes special guest saxophonist Ron Blake to Dazzle on Nov. 8...
Bret Saunders is the host of the KBCO Morning Show at 97.3 FM, Monday-Friday form 6-10am. Reach him: Bret@KBCO.com and follow him on Twitter: @Bretontheradio.

Read more: Jazz in Denver: Jane Bunnet, Tom Harrell, Medeski Martin and Wood - The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/music/ci_21856283/jazz-denver-jane-bunnet-tom-harrell-medeski-martin#ixzz2JWPPMrc8
Read The Denver Post's Terms of Use of its content: http://www.denverpost.com/termsofuse

25 October, 2012San Diego Magazine: "Athenaeum Jazz: Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble"

The Athenaeum Jazz series concludes on Thursday, October 25, with the nine-member Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble, featuring master trumpeter and fluegelhornist Harrell and his top-flight jazz quintet (Wayne Escoffery on saxophones, Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums) plus four chamber players (Charles Pillow on flute, Meg Okura on violin, Rubin Kodheli on cello, and Rale Micic on guitar). This extraordinary nine-piece ensemble features Harrell’s richly textured arrangements of music by Debussy and Ravel as well as his own compelling originals. Widely recognized as one of the most creative jazz instrumentalists and composers of our time, Harrell is a frequent winner in DownBeat and JazzTimes magazines' critics and readers polls. His warm, burnished sound and the harmonic and rhythmic sophistication in his playing and writing have earned Harrell his place as a jazz icon to aspiring musicians and devoted fans alike. Jazz Times wrote, “There is no one in jazz today writing with more intelligence, depth and heart than Tom Harrell… and Harrell’s playing on trumpet or fluegelhorn is equally breathtaking and cliche-free." Jazziz commented, “Harrell is the complete package–an exceptional improviser whose talents for composition and arranging equal his skill as an instrumentalist." Seating is limited and early reservations are advised! For tickets and information, visit our website www.ljathenaeum.org/jazz or call 858-454-5872. Please note that ticket prices have been adjusted solely to offset new expenses associated with the change in management of the hall.

25 October, 2012"Tom Harrell's brassy music enters new chamber"

Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25

Where: Athenaeum Jazz at Scripps Institute Research Auditorium, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla

Tickets: $32-$37 (all ages)

Phone: (858) 454-5872


Claude Debussy and Dizzy Gillespie are musical equals for veteran trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Harrell, who performs here tonight at the Scripps Research Institute Auditorium in La Jolla with his Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble. Ditto Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin and Miles Davis.

Harrell’s nine-piece ensemble teams his longtime quintet with a quartet that includes cello, violin, flute and guitar. This combination provides a broad textural palette that also allows improvisational flexibility. Both are vital to Harrell, who has written arrangements for symphony orchestras and performed with such pioneering Latin-rock bands as Santana and Malo.

He is best known for his exquisite jazz work as a band leader and alongside such luminaries as Gillespie, Woody Herman, Horace Silver and San Diego saxophonist Charles McPherson. But Harrell is a musician who knows few stylistic limitations, as evidenced by his past work with Boz Scaggs, Jesse Colin Young, Cold Blood and electric guitar greats Mike Bloomfield and Link Wray.

Whether performing jazz classics, his own music or adaptations of symphonic repertoire, Harrell plays with a winning combination of clarity, grace and fire. Anchored by the propulsive young drummer Jonathan Blake, his quintet also features sax dynamo Wayne Escoffery. To make matters even more intriguing, Harrell’s ensemble also features guest guitarist Râle Micic, a Belgrade native who adds a Balkan tinge.

16 August, 2012Soka Jazz Festival featuring Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble and Grant Stewart Quartet

oka International Jazz Festival with Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble and Grant Stewart Quartet

Friday, October 26, 2012, 7:30 p.m.

sponsored by BluePort Jazz

Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble (from New York):
Tom Harrell - trumpet, Wayne Escoffery – tenor & soprano sax, Danny Grissett - piano, Ugonna Okegwo – acoustic bass, Johnathan Blake - drums, Meg Okura - violin, Rubin Kodheli -cello, TBA - flute, Rale Micic – nylon string guitar

16 June, 2012Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble Plays at Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival

11 May, 2012NUMBER FIVE review in Audiophile Audition

Tom Harrell – Number Five – High Note HCD 7236, 59:12 ****:

(Tom Harrell, trumpet and flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor sax; Danny Grissett, piano, Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Jonathan Blake, drums)

The month of May brings more than flowers. It also means another release by noted trumpeter, Tom Harrell. Last May we reviewed The Time of the Sun, and the previous year brought Roman Nights. Tom has kept the same working band for each of his five High Note releases. It has been a wise move as the simpatico between band members is striking. Harrell is so confident in the chemistry of his group that he mentions in the liner notes that four tracks: “Journey to the Stars," “The Question," “Preludium," and the ballad arrangement of “Present" were recorded without ANY prior rehearsal. (Talk about trying to keep things fresh…)

Other changes that Tom brings to this new recording are that with the exception of the title track to 2010’s Roman Nights (done as a duo), this is the first of Harrell’s High Note CDs with his quintet, that he features different sub groupings. Only four compositions feature the full quintet. The rest of the CD has quartet, trio, duo, and even solo tracks. What remains intact, however, is the swing and lyrical blowing of Harrell, a constant that trumpet lovers can depend on from CD to CD.

The song list for Number Five also differs from his other High Note releases as it is the first to feature some non-original tracks – in this case Dizzy Gillespie’s “Blue ‘N’ Boogie," “Star Eyes," and Tadd Dameron’s “A Blue Time." For fans of sumptuous lyrical solo trumpet, you are in for a special treat, as Tom is completely a capella on the gorgeous “Star Eyes," and “A Blue Time."

“Blue ‘n’ Boogie" is done as a rare piano/drum duo, and drummer Blake and Harrell make a formidable hot combination. Harrell and Escoffery blend like a fine cognac on the gorgeous ballad, “Right as Rain." Wayne is also featured on the title track, and on “Melody in B-Flat." Grisset’s Fender Rhodes on “Present" adds a nice touch to the mellow mood that Harrell sets.

To mix things up even more, Harrell even includes an avant number, “GT," where the entire quintet gets to do some free blowing spurred on by drummer Blakes’ propulsive stick work.

Not to worry lyricism fans, as Harrell’s new CD is once again heavily concentrated on swing, gorgeous melodies, and the inimitable warm tone on the horn that Tom provides.

I’m already looking forward to next May…

Tracklist: Blue ‘N’ Boogie, Right as Rain, No. 5, Journey to the Stars, GT, Present, Star Eyes, Preludium, The Question, Melody in B-Flat, A Blue Time

—Jeff Krow

10 May, 2012NUMBER FIVE review in Step Tempest

"Number 5" HighNote Records), the 5th recording in 5 years to feature the 5-piece band that trumpeter and flugelhorn player Tom Harrell has had together since 2007. Saxophonist and co-producer Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett (he also plays Fender Rhodes), bassist Ugonna Okwego and drummer Johnathan Blake give this music great personality, imbuing the pieces with fire, grace, intelligence and substance. Add to that Harrell's fine compositions and arrangements as well as strong playing and this music shines.

For this CD, Harrell has mixed things up a bit. The first track, Dizzy Gillespie's "Blues 'N' Boogie", features the leader in a furious duo with Blake, the two musicians tugging at each other, pushing and pulling and absolutely swinging. Harrell's duo with Grissett, "Journey to the Stars", is a lovely ballad with circular piano figures and overdubbed trumpets that support the leader's lyrical flugelhorn work. "Present" is also a handsome ballad, with Grissett's chiming Rhodes tones plus excellent brush and cymbal work from Blake. Harrell goes it alone on the standard "Star Eyes", 5:29 of melody, invention, and, yes, rhythm. He close the program with another solo piece, Tadd Dameron's "A Blue Time", a medium tempo ballad that most certainly is a blues but also a richly melodic piece. Harrell's solo displays a swinging feel as well as a wonderful use of silence.

When the Quintet "hits", one can easily hear why Harrell is enamored with this band. Escoffery's tenor playing gets stronger with each recording, his solos filled with smart phrases and ideas (and not cliches.) Grissett, an intelligent player, and Okwego are the "glue" of the group - along with the active percussion of Blake, they give the soloists such fine support on the title track and the mysterious grooves of "GT". On the latter tune, Blake not only propels the piece forward but also engages in conversations with the soloists. Grissett picks up on the Thelonious Monk reference in Escoffery's solo and builds his solo off of it. In this section, the bass and drums move independently of the piano but never lose the forward motion.

Although the CD is credited to Tom Harrell, the 5 musicians are a real working unit and this music would not be good as it is without their interactions and ideas. Put their 5 recordings in a multi-disc player, press the "shuffle" button and luxuriate in one of the best working units in contemporary music. Yes, "Number 5" shows growth and adds new elements to Harrell's vision; yet it is a continuation of the excellent road has taken since 2007's "Light On." For more information, go to www.tomharrell.com.

16 April, 2012Harrell is nominated for the Jazz Journalist Association's Jazz Awards three years in a row

Tom Harrell is once again nominated for the Jazz Journalist Association's Jazz Awards for the "Trumpeter of the Year" category.

30 March, 2012New album, NUMBER FIVE, to be released on May 22, 2012

Harrell's fifth album, with his working unit of over six years, featuring Wayne Escoffery, Danny Grissett, Ugonna Okegwo, and Johnathan Blake, will be released on May 22, 2012. "This album will differ from the other Highnote releases with my quintet, in that we play in different configurations - a capella trumpet, trumpet/drum duo, trumpet/sax/bass trio, etc. We also play some pieces by other composers, which is something I have not done on my own albums for a long time." says Harrell.

09 March, 2012Harrell receives 6th SESAC JAzz Award for THE TIME OF THE SUN

New York: SESAC, the nation’s fastest growing performing rights organization, honored its affiliated composers in the jazz genre at the Eighth Annual Jazz Awards Luncheon. The event, held at New York’s iconic Jazz Standard club, honored the Top 10 jazz albums of 2011.

The SESAC Jazz Luncheon honored the successes of such critically hailed projects as Ben Allison’s Sonic Camera, Bob Baldwin’s NewUrbanJazz.com, Ninety Miles by Stefon Harris and Tirtha by Vijay Iyer.

Jazz great Tom Harrell, who was also honored for his album, The Time Of The Sun, offered a riveting performance.

SESAC executives Trevor Gale and Linda Lorence Critelli hosted the luncheon which drew an audience of some of the genre’s top artists, songwriters and publishers for the festive event including honorees Vijay Iyer, Ben Allison and Bob Baldwin among others.

"We are always excited to host this awards event honoring our very gifted artists," said SESAC’s Linda Lorence Critelli. “They truly represent excellence in the Jazz music genre and SESAC is very proud to recognize their achievements."

Established in 1930, SESAC is a service organization created to serve both the creators of music and music users through responsive and innovative music licensing and timely, efficient royalty collection and distribution. The nation’s second oldest and most progressive performing rights organization in the U.S., SESAC is known for its diversified repertory including genres Jazz, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Urban, Rock, Americana, Contemporary Christian, Latin, Country, Gospel, Dance, Classical and New Age. SESAC is also rapidly becoming the contemporary rights organization of choice among many of Hollywood’s most sought-after film and television composers. Headquartered in Nashville, the company also has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami and London.


JPEC presents Tom Harrell Quintet

& Opener Paul Tynan Quartet

Friday, March 16, 2012 - Glenn Gould Studio

Toronto, ON – Friday, February 24, 2012 -- JPEC's double bill on March 16 will present two generations of trumpet masters. The Jazz Performance and Education Centre (JPEC) - www.jazzcentre.ca - presents the third concert series of 2011/12 at the Glenn Gould Studio.

Tom Harrell leads his quintet with Johnathan Blake, Wayne Escoffery, David Berkman and Ugonna Okegwo. Originally a member of the post-bop school; Harrell has performed and recorded with the likes of Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Haden, and Lee Konitz (who graced JPEC's stage last year)

Appearing on over 260 recordings, Harrell has been an active musician since the 1960s and has garnered numerous awards along the way. His influence permeates the jazz scene—Ron Carter, Joe Lovano, Chris Potter, and Hank Jones are among the notable jazz instrumentalists who have recorded Harrell's compositions.

Tickets are $20 for adults or four for $40 or 10 for $75 and $5 for students (proper student ID required). Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.ca or 1.855.985.2787 or online

www.jazzcentre.ca or available at the GGS box office - 416-872-4255. More information on the concert:


The Paul Tynan quartet will open the show, and features Toronto's esteemed David Braid, Jon Maharaj, and Ethan Ardelli. To label Tynan simply as a "new generation" trumpeter might be misleading. He has performed with legendary artists like Clark Terry, Kenny Wheeler and Bob Brookmeyer, as well as Michael Brecker, Kenny Werner and Chris Potter. Tynan is also an active educator. He has taught at prestigious jazz schools in the United States and currently runs programs supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and The Nova Scotia Department of Culture.

Beyond their common instrument, Harrell and Tynan are both Down Beat award winners and are ranked among the top performers and composers in jazz. Their appearance on Toronto's stage in March will be an exciting lineage of the trumpet.

The Jazz Performance and Education Centre is committed to supporting the development of the next generation of jazz musicians and audience members. Through programming for students and fans of all ages, JPEC is seeking to instil a love of jazz today in those that will create and support the music tomorrow.

JPEC - www.jazzcentre.ca - is the result of collaboration between business people, musicians and arts professionals who are passionate about jazz in Toronto. Officially incorporated in 2008, the concept for the Jazz Performance and Education Centre was born in 2007 when jazz aficionados Raymond and Rochelle Koskie assembled a committee of fellow enthusiasts to address the need for a full-time jazz venue in Toronto. This first-class, multi-purpose facility will feature performances by top local, national and international jazz talent, educational programming in which fans of all ages can learn about jazz, recording facilities, a Hall of Fame and Archives which will encompass and preserve Canada's outstanding jazz heritage and tradition. The facility will enhance Toronto's reputation as one of the best cities in North America in which to experience live jazz.

JPEC's 2011-2012 season is generously supported by Castlepoint, Yamaha Canada Music, Koskie Minsky LLP, RBC Foundation, Tridel, BPA Group, Premform, that PR thing and media partners JAZZ.FM91 and National Post.

30 January, 2012THE TIME OF THE SUN picked by WWOZ' HOSTS' ' "BEST CDS OF 2011"

New orleans' WWOZ Hosts Sondra Bibb and TR Johnson choose TIME OF THE SUN in their picks for the best cds of 2011

25 January, 2012THE TIME OF THE SUN picked by KIOS' "LAST CALL BEST OF 2011"


10 January, 2012THE TIME OF THE SUN in Rhapsody's 2011 Jazz Critics Poll

THE TIME OF THE SUN in Rhapsody's 2011 Jazz Critics Poll

31 December, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN "Best New Jazz/Improvised Music Albums of 2011" - Culture Catch

Tom Harrell: The Time of the Sun (HighNote)

Trumpeter/flugelhornist Harrell, now a grizzled veteran, makes consistently interesting albums. His compositions (he wrote everything here) are quite original in a distinctive funky, slightly fusiony post-bop style. The title track in particular is a masterpiece; most immediately striking are what sound like synthesizer riffs, but are actually "recordings of the musical harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun"; it's also built on a 12-note bassline, yet sounds vaguely modal nonetheless; it's got a funky groove enhanced by Fender Rhodes. Fortunately Harrell's working quintet of five years with Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Danny Grissett (piano, Fender Rhodes), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), and Johnathan Blake (drums) have strong enough personalities, matched with familiarity with the music and each other, to grant the flavorful compositions their full-bodied due in characterful, seamlessly realized interpretations.

30 December, 2011TIME OF THE SUN named number 3 of the Top 20 Best Jazz Albums of 2011

1. Keith Jarrett - Rio (ECM) 2CD

2. Bill Frisell - All We Are Saying.... (Savoy Jazz)

3. Tom Harrell - Time of the Sun (HighNote)

4. Charles Lloyd - Athens Concert (ECM) 2CD

5. Christian McBride Big Band - The Good Feeling (!K7)

6. Redman/Parks/Penman/Harland - James Farm (Nonesuch)

7. Lee Konitz/Brad Mehldau/Charlie Haden/Paul Motian - Live At Birdland (ECM)

8. Branford Marsalis/Joey Calderazzo - Songs of Mirth and Melancholy (Marsalis Music)

9. Miles Davis - Live In Europe 1967 (Sony Legacy) 3CD + DVD

10. Harris/Sanchez/Scott - Ninety Miles (Concord Picante)

11. Danny Grissett- Stride (Criss Cross)

12. Brad Mehldau - Live In Marciac (Nonesuch) (2CD +DVD)

13. Wellstone Conspiracy - Humble Origins (Origin)

14. Storms/Nocturnes Trio (Locke/Keezer/Garland) - Via (Origin)

15. Peter Bernstein - Live At Smalls (SmallsLive)

16. Christian McBride -Conversations With Christian (Mack Avenue)

17. Hank Jones - Trio With Mads Vinding & Al Foster (Storyville)

18. Bill Frisell - Blues Dream (Nonesuch)

19. Collin Valon - Rruga (ECM)

20. Anthony Branker & Word Play - Dialogic (Origin)

24 December, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - Best 64 Albums I heard in 2011

THE TIME OF THE SUN is #8 according to Britt Robson of MinnPost.com

19 December, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN in "AllMusic’s Favorite Jazz Albums of 2011"

THE TIME OF THE SUN is inn the top ten album picks by the Allmusic Blog

19 December, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN in Huffington Post's Ralph Miriello's "My Picks for the Best of Jazz 2011"

THE TIME OF THE SUN in Huffington Post's Ralph Miriello's "My Picks for the Best of Jazz 2011"

18 December, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN selected in TOP TEN JAZZ CDS OF 2011 by Redwood Jazz Alliance

THE TIME OF THE SUN selected in TOP TEN JAZZ CDS OF 2011 by Redwood Jazz Alliance

27 November, 2011NY DAILY NEWS feature on Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble " The Many Muses of Trumpeter Tom Harrell "

NYC-style jazz meets classical music:  The many muses of trumpeter Tom Harrell 
He says link can be found in such composers as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin

BY Greg Thomas 

American jazz and European classical music may on the surface seem to be very different. Jazz emphasizes improvisation and the player is in control, while in classical music, the composer reigns.

Yet jazz trumpeter and Washington Heights resident Tom Harrell believes that they have more in common than readily meets the ear.

“To me, there’s really no boundary between the two. Jazz is Afro-American, and classical is European, but there’s a link, you know. And Africa, of course, has an influence on Europe too," he says.

In addition to jazz artists who have studied and played classical music such as Joe Wilder, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Paquito D’Rivera, and fellow Washington Heights resident Miguel Zenon, the link can be found in the collaboration between Gil Evans and Miles Davis in the 1950s as well as in such composers as Claude Debussy, Maurice Ravel and George Gershwin, according to Harrell.You could fill an iPod with Harrell’s examples.

“Debussy wrote ‘Cakewalk,’ which was influenced by ragtime, and Ravel shows the influence of jazz in his ‘Concerto in G.’ Gershwin studied with Ravel, and then wrote his ‘Concerto in F.’ That could have been the way they were communicating."
Harrell, a top jazz trumpet and flugelhorn stylist for 40 years, studied piano while at Stanford University, where he became enamored with Debussy and Ravel.

“I’m attracted to their music because of their use of Afro-Hispanic and Afro-Cuban rhythms and melodies," he says. “I am also deeply influenced by tone poems, so writing for a project that explicitly celebrates two of my favorite French composers made complete sense to me.

“Some people even say Billy Strayhorn [Duke Ellington's writing and arranging partner] sounded like Stravinsky writing for a big band. But Stravinsky was influenced by jazz. too."

The project he mentions above is his chamber jazz ensemble that performed for three nights recently at the Village Vanguard. Along with his regular quintet of trumpet (Harrell), tenor and soprano sax (Wayne Escoffery), piano (Danny Grissett), (bass) Ugonna Okwego, and drums (Johnathan Blake), musicians playing flute (Dan Block), violin (Meg Okura), cello (Rubin Kodheli) and guitar (Rale Micic) were also featured.

In addition to writing arrangements of compositions by Ravel and Debussy, Harrell composed several fine originals with classical influence.

In case some might think that his incorporation of classical music into jazz is new or elitist, Harrell says not true. He has recorded songs influenced by classical music over the last 15 years.

Plus, as with the men he calls his musical fathers, jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver and alto sax and clarinet great Phil Woods, his music has a global intent — he wants it to be embraced by all.

“Horace taught me how music relates to life, and Phil encouraged my writing," he says. “And Horace’s music always says ‘welcome.’ Like the expression ‘Live welcoming to all.’ I’m getting away from what you might call elitism, because I think music is supposed to be for everyone."

Perhaps that’s why on his latest three recordings on the High Note label — “Prana Dance," “Roman Nights" and “The Time of the Sun" — many of the arrangements have a strong backbeat more associated with pop, R&B, hip hop and other popular genres.

“I like rhythms that are infectious, that make you wanna dance," says Harrell, who as a trumpet stylist is known for meshing deep lyricism and a warm tone with a rich harmonic sense, all grounded in love of rhythm. “I know people enjoy
backbeat-driven music, and I enjoy it too. I want my music to be fun. James Brown? That was very sophisticated music."

Another mentor of his, bebop trumpet icon Dizzy Gillespie, “... thought like a drummer. The rhythmic feeling that jazz drummers have in the U.S. is unique. Dizzy told me that you could choose the prettiest notes in the world, but if you don’t have the right rhythm, it doesn't have meaning."

Or, as Harrell describes his cosmopolitan approach, “music can convey elegance and earthiness, too."

16 November, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN -Music Renation Review (in French)

A quoi pense Tom Harrell?

Aux harmoniques produites par le champ magnétique du Soleil, ou bruit radioélectrique. Ce genre de trucs auxquels on ne pense pas, nous simples mortels, quand on a le nez collé au hublot… Ce sont
ces nappes étranges qui ouvrent The Time Of The Sun. Elles ont été captées par deux astronomes, Professeur Robertus Erdelyi et Dr. Alexander Kosovichev, tout droit sortis d’un roman de Jules
Verne ou Isaac Asimov.

Pour ce 4ème album chez HighNote, on avait tout à craindre du disque-concept, du projet geek-friendly. Genre: « on a calculé les lignes du champ magnétique solaire rapportées à la gamme du ré
mixolydien chromatique, et on a improvisé dessus pendant 45 minutes, tellement on était irradiés par les rayons cosmiques »… Et franchement, on aurait toujours pu trouver un musicien de Jazz pour
le faire! Mais là non… Seules quelques éruptions de Rhodes nous rappellent les blips-blips du vaisseau Entreprise en croisière, sur la composition éponyme.

Finalement, du titre on ne gardera que la lumière. Car The Time Of The Sun est un disque lumineux, quitte à enfoncer une porte ouverte… Après des œuvres taillées XXL pour les orchestres à cordes
et à vents, Tom Harrell a trouvé son véhicule idéal en 2007 : Le quintet de Jazz façon Miles Davis et Horace Silver. Depuis, chaque album de son groupe est un pas de plus vers la perfection
jazzistique. On pensait que l’état de grâce était atteint sur Roman Nights? On se trompait, car celui-ci fait encore mieux. Plus accessible en apparence, moins Bop, The Time Of The Sun est
d’avantage tourné vers la fusion et le groove… En apparence seulement, car il permet une fois de plus à Tom Harrell – le compositeur – de tisser un mince fil de soie entre simplicité mélodique et
science de l’harmonie.

1 pour 5, 5 pour 1…

A une époque ou les musiciens se réinventent à chaque album, changeant de projets et d’entourages comme de chemise, on note que le 5tet de Tom Harrell n’a pas bougé d’un iota depuis sa création.
Wayne Escoffery au ténor, Danny Grissett aux claviers, Ugonna Okegwo à la basse et Johnathan Blake à la batterie: On imagine la solidité de l’ensemble, sorte d’équipage idéal pour nous emmener
dans le Cosmos… La somme de travail cumulée depuis 4 ans (pour autant de disques et de tournées mondiales), garanti une certaine expertise, et permet toutes les audaces.

Enregistré à Brooklyn après une semaine de résidence au Village Vanguard, Time Of The Sun montre l’aisance et la fraicheur qui découlent de 4 ans d’exigence. A ce stade, n’importe-quelle suite
d’accords imaginée par Tom Harrell se transforme en cathédrale dans les mains du 5tet. Des thèmes qui partent souvent d’un rien: une couleur, un motif de trompette ou de piano (car Tom Harrell
compose beaucoup au piano). Et qui débouchent sur des évidences à la Kind Of Blue – Estuary, jolie balade en suspension ; The Open Door, cousin germain de Freddie Freeloader – Ou des thèmes plus
enlevés à la Seven Steps To Heaven, quand Tom Harrell et Wayne Escoffery refont la paire Miles Davis & George Coleman (Ridin’, River Samba…). Ainsi, l’ombre de l’Ange Noir plane toujours…

Au chapitre des idoles, il y a aussi Horace Silver – l’un des premiers employeurs de Tom - Ce coté 5tet d’Horace Silver du 21ème siècle est très flagrant sur Modern Life, l’un des sommets
du disque (et clin-d’œil au Cape Verdean Blues de 1965?)… Quant à Dream Text, l’autre tube incontournable, c’est une mélodie minimaliste qui sommeillait dans l’inconscient de notre héros (c’est
lui qui le dit), servie sur un lit de Fender Rhodes et relevée par une pointe de groove, avec solos de sax et de trompette imparables. Soit le genre de titre qui squattent durablement la bande FM
aux Etats-Unis – Light On, Prana Dance et Roman Nights, les trois derniers disques du groupe, ont tous atteint la première place des diffusions radio – On est sûr que celui là prendra le même

S’il n’existait pas, ce 5tet de Tom Harrell serait donc un fantasme d’amateur de Jazz. Un peu comme ceux de Miles ou Horace Silver dans les années 60 on l’a dit, et dans la même veine que le
récent Earfood 5tet de Roy Hargrove… Un groupe hors du commun qui nous rappelle à chaque instant, que le Jazz est d’abord une joie pour les oreilles, et ensuite, un vrai petit coin de

10 October, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - Stereophile Magazine's Recording of the Month

Recording of the Month
Recording of October 2011: The Time of the Sun
By Robert Baird • Posted: Oct 6, 2011
Tom Harrell: The Time of the Sun
Tom Harrell, trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone; Danny Grissett, piano, Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Johnathan Blake, drums
High Note HCD7222 (CD). 2011. Tom Harrell, Wayne Escoffery, Angela Harrell, prods.; Joe Fields, exec. prod.; Mike Marciano, eng. AAD? TT: 62:12
Performance ****½
Sonics ****½

Trumpeters use their horns to search for truth. At least that's the folk tale. Somehow, that pure, ringing tone that most strive for at some point in their career—think Louis Armstrong, Clifford Brown, Miles Davis—suggests a quest for deeper knowledge, something closer to the heart. In effect, trumpeters play a knife—a blade that can cut through nerve, bone, and sinew to that heart; to realizations, we'd like to think, that force them to be honest.

Those who bemoan the absence in today's jazz of a truth teller such as John Coltrane or Miles Davis need to remember the playing and writing of Tom Harrell, which are every bit as deft and insightful as those of the titans of the past. From his sharp, lyrical, cool-toned playing on trumpet and flugelhorn, to the forceful, focused, accessible ideas in his writing, to his ability to lead one of the more long-lived and muscular post-bop quintets in jazz today, Harrell is one of the music's biggest stars.

On The Time of the Sun, his 27th album as a leader, Harrell, now 65, shows again what a master he is, not only of his horns but of pen and paper. His current writing continues to incorporate more and more rhythmic vitality, and though this album of original compositions does include "River Samba," which extends Harrell's love of that form, he's now moving from the Latin-tinged feel of some of his RCA/BMG recordings of the late 1990s to a much funkier attitude and tone. This reaches a climax on track 3, "Ridin'," in which drummer Johnathan Blake and bassist Ugonna Okegwo lock in the rhythm, and pianist Danny Grissett lashes out fast, funky interjections on Fender Rhodes, before Harrell steps up to deliberately evoke the glorious ghost of electric-era Miles. It's the most transcendent moment on this record, and one of the most groove-heavy tracks he's ever recorded.

In another choppy groover, "The Open Door," Blake makes a convincing case for his ability to thrust and drive, while Wayne Escoffery's distinct, full tone and assertive attack provide a very different flavor and effective instrumental counterweight to the lighter, more cerebral Harrell. The tenor-sax player lays out a ferocious solo here, before the leader is simply spectacular in his statements, running up and down the scales. Though less rhythmically insistent, "Cactus" is also a smooth, pulsating workout; Escoffery has fun with the first solo, before Harrell moves in to intersperse long-lined passages with sparkling flurries of notes.

Afflicted with a form of schizophrenia that he has controlled with drugs for many years, Harrell—who served apprenticeships in the bands of Woody Herman, Horace Silver, and Phil Woods, to name just a few of his associations over the years—has, like all truly great horn players, an unmistakable, confident tone. That tone is lush, lyrical, and inviting as it floats through "Dream Text," a tune that changes midway through into almost a pop melody, with Grissett's twinkling Rhodes redolent of the approach of Bob James. In his liner note, Harrell says that he has "a storehouse inside me of beautiful moments," and he reveals a few of them here as he pays tribute to his old mentor Silver in "Modern Life," which blends several bright Silver-like themes played in unison by Harrell and Escoffery, and includes a gorgeous, liquid solo from Grissett on acoustic piano.

Recorded at Brooklyn's Systems Two recording studio, The Time of the Sun has a three-dimensional sound that is alive with rich dynamics and a nice balance between the instruments. It opens with sounds, reminiscent of a shimmery synthesizer, that were generated by the sun's magnetic field. These were recorded at the University of Sheffield and at Stanford University (from which Harrell graduated in 1967 with a degree in music composition), and downloaded from iTunes by Angela Harrell, the trumpeter's wife. What sounds on paper like a gimmick actually works as an opener to one of Harrell's finest albums as a leader—so far. In his liner note, he explains the sun's whispers in ways that connect directly to his worldview of life and music:

"I'm interested in the way a certain number of sequences pervade the universe as well as music—which is part of the universe. For example, the earth takes 12 months in its orbit to go around the sun, which relates to the 12 notes of the chromatic scale—you could think of the sun as a tonic and the planets as notes in the scale. But sometimes I write music without a tonal center, too. You can also think of the 12 notes as being all equal divisions of the octave. So in a sense, the music has a political implication, too. It shows how people can be free and still retain structure."—Robert Baird

01 October, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN -DOWNBEAT Review

Tom Harrell
The Time Of The Sun HIGH NOTE 7222 ★★★★

The first 20 seconds of Tom Harrell’s latest High Note release set an appropriately high bar for what’s to come—as in, 93 million miles high. The disc kicks off with a mesmerizing shimmer of circular sounds reminiscent of some cross between a time-lapsed cymbal crash and an aquatic sonic boom. In fact, the sounds are three recordings of “harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun," as the disc jacket indicates.

This stirringly beautiful opening becomes a point of departure for the title track, an ethereal slow-burner that exemplifies the increasingly heady material Harrell and his cur- rent quintet have been forging since 2006. Cementing the foundations of Harrell’s gorgeously inventive melodic ideas, the group’s top-notch rhythm section employs funk-filled rhythms here as adroitly as their leader finds inspiration in the melodies of the solar system.

On “Ridin’," the funkiest track, drummer Johnathan Blake diverges from his
otherwise spacey atmospheric underlays to deliver a series of swinging grooves complemented by Danny Grissett’s Rhodes. The more contained and Earth-bound “Estuary" moves in tides, with gentle piano teasers lapping at Harrell’s often genius trumpet lines. A swell of energy eventually alters the tune’s direction, as Wayne Escoffery’s tenor challenges the melody with a storm of angular playing. In the final wave, those same sharp angles tumble into a smooth solo finish before being washed away by Harrell’s celestial return.

Start to finish, this is some of Harrell’s most elegant and addictively moving work.
—Jennifer Odell

The Time of The sun: The Time Of The Sun; Estuary; Ridin’; The Open Door; Dream Text; Modern Life; River Samba; Cactus; Otra. (62:25) personnel: Tom Harrell, trumpet, flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone; Danny Grissett, piano, Fender Rhodes; ugonna Okegwo, bass; Johnathan Blake, drums.
ordering info: jazzdepot.com

17 August, 2011Tom Harrell Plays at Oslo Jazz festival

ALBUM: I går var Tom Harrell Quintet i aksjon under Oslo Jazzfestival, i morgen stiller Humcrush - Ståle Storløkken og Thomas Strønen - sammen med Sidsel Endresen på samme festival (Mono) og begge er plateaktuelle denne uka.

«Ha!» er de soniske utforskerne/eventyrerne Humcrush' fjerde album og er et opptak av den Endresen-utvidede duoens konsert under Willisau Jazzfestival i fjor.

Storløkkens synther og Strønens trommer og maskiner jobber som en lydskulpturell perpetuum mobile under og rundt Endresens karakteristiske, ordliknende snakkesang.

Lydkildene fusjonerer sømløst i et friimprovisert uttrykk der mer ortodokse parametere som tempo, dynamikk og rytmikk varieres gjennom en strøm av fascinerende forløp/klangbilder.

DEN amerikanske trompeteren Tom Harrell har ledet sin kvintett siden 2006, og på «The Time Of The Sun» - besetningens fjerde album - er det da også et solid sammensnekret band som puster mye og godt liv i kapellmesterens låter.

Harrell (f. 1946) er stadig en av de fineste trompeterne på denne siden av Miles-generasjonen, en klassisk hardbopper som gradvis har modernisert musikken sin mot et mer moderne uttrykk uten å trekke tungt på rock, hiphop eller andre mer publikumsvennlige strømninger.

Tenoristen Wayne Escoffery er en verdig makker i frontlinja, mens Danny Grissett (piano), Ugonna Okegwo (bass) og Jonathan Blake (trommer) løser sine oppgaver med vital stilsikkerhet.

TO svenske navn som pryder festival- og klubbplakater rundt i verden er Nils Landgren og Tingvall Trio. Begge er albumaktuelle nå, trombonisten og vokalisten Landgren med 12 «månen-stjernene-og kjærligheten»-låter samlet under den smektende tittelen «The Moon, The Stars And You», Tingvall Trio med «Vägen», nok et knippe låter fra pianist Martin Tingvalls hånd og hode.

Landgren tar for seg bl a Mancinis «Moon River», Cat Stevens' gåtefulle «Moonshadow» og Kris Kristoffersens ultrasentimentale «Please Don't Tell Me How The Story Ends» med naivt sjarmerende sang og sikkert spill.

Rundt ham opptrer kanonmusikere som Richard Galliano (akkordeon), bassistene Dan Berglund (EST) eller Lars Danielsson, pianisten Michael Wollny og selveste trommeguru Steve Gadd (på tre låter), og resultatet er ei utpreget koseplate som trass i all sin markedstilpassede vellyd står støtt på et uangripelig musikerhåndverk.

ET par år etter gjennombruddsplata «Vattensaga», er Tingvall Trio stadig stramt forankret i pianist/komponist Martin Tingvalls pop-tilgjengelige melodilinjer. På «Vägen» leverer trioen publikumsvennlig, jazzavledet instrumentalmusikk i den sjangeren som EST og The Bad Plus i sin tid utviklet, av og til med en dæsj Tord Gustavsen Trio´sk stillfaren melankoli i uttrykket.

Det er en stil som krever sin pianist for ikke å stivne i stakkato akkordbanking, og Tingvall har teknikk til stort sett å holde formidlingen interessant, selv om musikken i perioder blir farlig «pen» og motstandsløs.

Medspillerne, kontrabassist Omar Rodriguez Calvo og trommeslager Jürgen Spiegel, er harmonisk og rytmisk fint på plass i det godt integrerte uttrykket, og lydproduksjonen fra Artesuono Studio i Udine slipper et lyttende øre tett innpå denne trioprosessen som er i ferd med å vekke solid gjenklang i Europa.

16 August, 2011Nisville Jazz Festival Review

Niš - Hvala!, rekao je poslednje nišvilske večeri, kratko i pognute glave, Tom Harel (Tom Harrell), jedan od najvećih džez trubača, kompozitora i aranžera današnjice koga mnogi nazivaju muzičkim genijem, po završetku nastupa koji je nekoliko hiljada ljudi ispratilo čas u dubokoj tišini, čas uz „svaka čast“ aplauz. Izuzetni nastup „čoveka u crnom“, koji se decenijama više nego uspešno bavi muzikom uprkos ozbiljnoj bolesti, bio je umetnički vrhunac petodnevnog Nišvila 2011.

14 August, 2011Tom Harrell receives "Emperor Constantine Award" for contribution to jazz at the Nisville Jazz Festival

Tom Harrell was awarded for his contribution to jazz at the annual Nisville Jazz Festival.

31 July, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - Jazz CD Review by Jazz Society of Oregon

The Time of the Sun, Tom Harrell, trumpet and flugelhorn.
It'd no secret by now that Tom Harrell is considered one of the trumpet masters of this or any era. His original compositions can range from challenging, up-tempo creations to melodies of tenderness and beauty. His latest effort presents his present-day quintet of Wayne Escoffery, tenor saxophone, Danny Grissett, piano, Ugonna Okegwo, bass, and Johnathan Blake, drums. The nine originals here are delivered in a vital, fresh and exuberant style. This is gimmick-free, non-confining post-bop with generous solo opportunities for every player. While Harrell leaps to the top of the mountain, you'll find the gritty, high-flying solowork of Escoffery and Grissett to be right in the pocket as well. Perhaps the most "straight ahead" cut on the album was a free flowing, sophisticated entry titled "Modern Life." As compared to past efforts, Harrell displays a bit more funk and groove orientation on this outing. He is a marvel of intricacy and — let's call it what it is — chops! There are few, if any, who can measure up to a riveting Tom Harrell solo!
High Note Records, 2011, 62:12.

31 July, 2011Successo per i concerti notturni di Fano Jazz. Tom Harrell incanta il pubblico con la sua tromba

Il concerto più affascinante l'ha dato il trombettista Tom Harrell in quintetto nella Marina dei Cesari. È risaputo che questo bell'uomo alto un metro e novanta, con il viso incorniciato da barba e capelli bianchissimi, soffre di schizofrenia fin dagli anni giovanili. Sul palcoscenico resta in piedi, immobile, in apparenza assente. Si scuote soltanto per le esposizioni tematiche e per gli assoli, ma il suono morbido e il fraseggio perfetto di quella tromba – mai una nota di troppo, mai un accenno di esibizione – sono indimenticabili, si comunicano ai quattro sodali prima che al pubblico, e le otto composizioni sono tutte di Harrell. Magnifico.

29 July, 2011FESTIVAL Il quintetto del trombettista dal vivo a Fano L'inquieta eleganza di Tom Harrell Il musicista statunitense ospite della rassegna «Jazz by the Sea». Un concerto intenso votato al rigore e alla totale concentrazione

FESTIVAL Il quintetto del trombettista dal vivo a Fano
L'inquieta eleganza di Tom Harrell
Il musicista statunitense ospite della rassegna «Jazz by the Sea». Un concerto intenso votato al rigore e alla totale concentrazione

Impalato davanti al microfono, le braccia abbandonate lungo i fianchi, la testa china seminascosta da una frangia di capelli bianchi: lungi dal mettere a disagio, l'immobilità di Tom Harrell - quando non imbocca la tromba o il flicorno per esporre il tema o per prendere un assolo, nella sua assoluta negazione di qualsiasi appeal scenico, è una sorta di anti-presenza che risulta senza volerlo come un invito alla concentrazione: una sollecitazione al rigore tanto dell'ascolto da parte del pubblico, quanto nella creazione della musica da parte degli accompagnatori.
È raro assistere ad un concerto di jazz in cui la platea sia così assorta, e il silenzio così complice: tanto più in un concerto all'aperto, d'estate, sul bordo dell'acqua, quella del Porto dei Cesari che è una delle cornici in cui si svolge Fano Jazz by the Sea. È raro vedere un gruppo di jazz - quale che sia il suo orientamento stilistico - che suoni con una cura simile, con una dedizione così palpabile alla fattura della musica. Qualche lampo di un temporale sullo sfondo e che si poteva pensare in avvicinamento, qualche folata di vento che ad un certo punto ha fatto temere il peggio, hanno reso l'atmosfera ancora più speciale.
Sessantacinquenne, Harrel è affetto da disturbi di tipo schizofrenico, il che non gli ha impedito di condurre una carriera jazzistica di prim'ordine, come strumentista (con una vasta esperienza anche in campo orchestrale: Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Mel Lewis, Sam Jones-Tom Harrell Big Band, Liberation Music Orchestra), leader, compositore e arrangiatore. Per i propri piccoli gruppi Harrell predilige il quintetto, e con questo formato è tornato per le date italiane della stagione, con gli stessi musicisti - fra i quali è l'unico bianco - che figurano nel recente Roman Nights (High Note Records). In Wayne Escoffery, sax tenore, inglese ma dall'adolescenza negli Stati Uniti, non è difficile cogliere fin dalle prime battute la frequentazione con lo stile di un eminente sax alto del jazz moderno, Jackie McLean, una delle più interessanti personalità sassofonistiche del jazz moderno, con il quale ha studiato per diversi anni: Escoffery suona in maniera concettosa, con una classe che è tutta mirata all'espressione, senza inutile sfoggio di virtuosismo, e con una passione che traspare ma che il sassofonista ha la capacità di controllare, di tenere a freno, col risultato di introdurre nelle sue improvvisazioni una corroborante tensione. Danny Grissett è un pianista sobrio e parco, che articola le note in maniera molto distinta: il grosso del suo gioco è nelle frasi della mano destra, mentre lieve, discreto, spesso appena accennato è quello della sinistra sul registro basso. Poco appariscente ma funzionale il contrabbassista Ugona Ogkewo. Col suo drumming Johnathan Blake è infine uno dei motivi che rendono adorabile un gruppo come questo: preciso, nitido, assai dinamico e vario e sempre giudizioso nel calibrare i timbri e contenere il volume. Ma tutta la musica del quintetto è estremamente disciplinata, senza con questo perdere nulla in termini di feeling e di swing. Rinomato come autore, Harrell propone temi eleganti, che mantengono una signorilità, un contegno, anche quando sono più spiccatamente accattivanti. La matrice della musica che Harrell propone col quintetto è in alcune delle forme di jazz non free più avanzate degli anni Sessanta: da atmosfere sottilmente inquiete si va a brani garbatamente soul jazz, a riff godibilmente funky, in cui Grissett introduce una punta di piano elettrico, ad un bis di sapore latin jazz (un ambito con cui anche come arrangiatore per altri Harrell ha una notevole dimestichezza).
Di pregio straordinario l'insieme dei due fiati nelle esposizioni dei temi, e affascinante il solismo di Harrell, che spesso ricorda Miles, ma che è estremamente personale col suo suono caldo, morbido, pastoso, e il suo linguaggio generalmente stringato, essenziale, logico: con qualcosa, persino, pur all'interno di un contesto e di una poetica ben diversa, del senso di un segno pittorico caro alla tromba di un maestro del free come Bill Dixon. Se guardiamo al jazz che fa largamente da base all'estetica di Harrell, è un jazz storicamente antecedente per esempio all'irrompere del jazz elettrico: ma nel confronto, John McLaughlin, che del jazz elettrico è stato un battistrada e uno dei massimi alfieri, esibitosi la sera prima al Teatro della Fortuna con grande decoro e certamente con un suo perché, ci è apparso - con tutto il rispetto - più antico della musica di Harrell: dove non c'è mai neanche l'ombra della nostalgia per i bei tempi andati, e che nella sua intensità dal tempo, per lo spazio di un set, è come se ti portasse fuori.

24 July, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - Jazz CD Review by Ken Frankling

Tom Harrell, The Time of the Sun (HighNote)
Trumpeter Tom Harrell has had a strong run of consistent excellence in his writing and playing across four decades, and there is no sign that he’s letting up or letting his quality sag. The Time of the Sun is the fourth recording by his five-year-old working quintet, which includes saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake. Okegwo has been a Harrell collaborator for 12 years.
With this kind of band consistency, the trust, rapport and musical empathy shine through. All nine Harrell originals are terrific. I particularly like “Estuary," “Ridin’," “The Open Door," the beautiful “Dream Text" and Harrell’s Latin burner “Otra." The title track is surreal, opening with snippets of three recordings by astronomers of musical harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the sun’s outer atmosphere. Harrell, always the musical adventurer, takes that atmosphere and runs with it.

22 July, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - Irish Times review "Harrell Continues to Impress"


The Time of the Sun HighNote ****

This is the fourth album by the fine quintet trumpeter, flügelhornist and composer Tom Harrell since 2006. Harrell’s writing, like his playing, is rooted in bop and modal jazz, and its individuality and freshness does much to influence the character of the band, in which Wayne Escoffery (tenor) completes a contrasting but complementary front line. In a superb rhythm section anchored by Ugonna Okegwo’s bass, drummer Johnathan Blake seems ever more central to the group’s fluid unity, with Danny Grissett (piano/Fender Rhodes) an excellent soloist and increasingly distinctive colour in the band’s tonal palette. Strikingly varied performances by this contemporary mainstream model of consistent creativity and mutual responsiveness include Dream Text, Modern Life, Cactus and Otra . And Harrell, as ever, is a marvel of sophistication and lyricism. See jazzdepot.com

18 July, 2011Der Trompeter des Jahres beim Augsburger Jazzsommer Am Mittwochabend: Das Tom Harrell Quintet

650 Gäste hat der Auftakt des Augsburger Jazzsommers am vergangenen Mittwoch in den Botanischen Garten gelockt – und das, obwohl das Wetter einen Umzug ins beim Publikum nicht so sehr geliebte Glashaus notwendig machte. „Wenn wir draußen hätten bleiben können“, meint Organisator Christian Stock, „dann hätten wir 900 gehabt.“ Auf dem Programm hatte ja auch nicht irgendwer gestanden, sondern mit John Scofield einer der unangefochtenen internationalen Stars an der Jazzgitarre, in Kritikeraugen einer der einflussreichsten Jazzgitarristen der Gegenwart. – Der im Augsburger Jazz-Garten auch nicht mit irgendeiner zusammengewürfelten Tournee-Band auftauchte, sondern mit den kongenialen Starts Mulgrew Miller am Flügel, Scott Colley am Schlagzeug und Bill Stewart an den Drums. Alle, die dabei waren, schwärmen von einem außerordentlichen Abend – wer etwas nachholen möchte, kann der Band noch im Juli nach Italien, Tschechien Spanien, Frankreich und in die Schweiz nachreisen – hier gibt’s die Tourdaten: www.johnscofield.com.

Auf diesem für Augsburg sensationellen Niveau kann es leider nicht weitergehen – Christian Stocks Jazzreihe ist finanziell nicht gerade üppig ausgestattet. Doch auch das Konzert des morgigen Abends (Mittwoch, 20. Juli, 20 Uhr im Rosenpavillon des Botanischen Gartens, bei schlechtem Wetter wiederum im Glashaus) könnte ein Ereignis werden: Nicht so überaus berühmt wie John Scofield, ist der 66jährige Tom Harrell trotzdem ebenfalls ein Star, gilt als einer der versiertesten Jazztrompeter der Welt. Der weiße Saxophonist hat eine Band mit vier schwarzen Musikern um sich geschart: Harrell kommt mit dem Tenorsaxophonisten Wayne Escoffery sowie mit Danny Grissett am Klavier, dem Bassisten Ugonna Okegwo und Johnathan Blake am Schlagzeug. Darf man auf Harrells Krankheit hinweisen? – Das Programmheft des Jazzsommers tut es, als soll auch hier nicht seine Besonderheit verschwiegen werden: Harroll leidet seit langer Zeit unter schizophrenen Schüben, wirkt auf der Bühne oft völlig leer und teilnahmslos, solange er nicht selbst spielt. Doch wenn er seine Trompete ansetzt geschieht etwas, was man symbolhaft geradezu als ein „Wunder der Musik“ beschreiben könnte: Tom Harrell lebt auf, lässt seine Krankheit und Zerbrechlichkeit hinter sich und „bläst sich frei“. Der Musiker wurde schon 1996 zum ersten Mal vom amerikanischen „Downbeat“-Magazin zum Jazztrompeter des Jahres gekürt – aktuell hat ihn die „Jazz Journalist Association“ für das Jahr 2011 zum „Trompeter of the Year“ nominiert. Ein bisschen reinhören in seinen Stil kann man auf seiner Homepage unter www.tomharrell.com.

13 July, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - JAZZTIMES review

Tom Harrell
The Time of the Sun
HighNote Records

By Owen Cordle

Tom Harrell’s quintet owes its premier status to the trumpeter-leader’s compelling writing, its ability to maintain a consistent lineup since its formation in 2006, and jazz values rooted in bebop and hard bop but tempered by rhythms introduced since the 1960s. The Time of the Sun, the band’s fourth album for HighNote, represents the pinnacle of its work so far.

As with the group’s previous albums, Harrell penned all the tunes. They are rhythmically engaging, a lesson Harrell learned during his days with Horace Silver’s quintet in the early ’70s (an experience saluted here with the Blue Note-ish “Modern Life"). But then Harrell writes compelling melodies, too, some with long held notes and slow moving lines (“Estuary" and “Open Door"), others with more complex designs. Whatever the case, it’s the groove that perfectly completes them.

We already know that Harrell is a focused, structured improviser who develops his solos like a composer yet still exhibits a sense of daring every time he plays. Here he’s consistently impressive on all counts. Tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery is a frontline partner who is varied in temperament and attack and fosters a personal sound; his and Harrell’s hookup can recall the pairing of Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis. Danny Grissett plays both acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes and contributes much to the color of these performances, as on the title track, where his lines on Rhodes snake through the march beat and melody of the horns. And on the fast-paced, arpeggio-based “Ridin’," Grissett offers Bitches Brew-like keyboard jabs and washes. Bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake give this music a contemporary feeling, whether it’s the percolating beat of the pop-ish “Dream Text" or the fast Brazilian feel of “River Samba." All of it deserves to be heard again and again.

27 June, 2011Time Out NY Critics' Pick: Tom Harrell's "Jazz Meets Classical: Debussy and Ravel" + Ron Carter Trio

Tom Harrell's "Jazz Meets Classical: Debussy and Ravel" + Ron Carter Trio Critics' Pick

Blue Note Jazz Festival. Tom Harrell may be one of the greatest trumpeters alive, which you'd expect from someone who’s held his own in trumpet battles with Freddie Hubbard and the late Lee Morgan. Harrell's latest record, The Time of the Sun, features groovy, ambitious postbop, but tonight he's surveying the classics. Also on the bill is the legendary bassist Ron Carter, piloting his sparkling trio with soulful pianist Mulgrew Miller and burning guitarist Russell Malone.

28 May, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - All Music Guide review

Trumpeter Tom Harrell's expansive and funky 2011 effort, The Time of the Sun, is a creatively inspired, somewhat experimental work that finds the journeyman post-bopper delivering some of the best work of his career. Once again featuring the same ensemble he's used since 2007's Light On, the album includes tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist/Fender Rhodes player Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake. This is a seasoned ensemble of talented, like-minded musicians who've been guided for several years by Harrell's ever-searching trumpet and compositional voice. Beginning with recordings of solar oscillations -- harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun -- the album is an engaging, cerebral, yet dancey affair that showcases Harrell's longstanding knack for sinewy improvisational lines and memorable, thoughtful harmonic compositions. While not fusion, the music here does bring to mind the '70s works of trumpeter Eddie Henderson, like Heritage and Sunburst. The title track and the propulsively funky "Ridin'" find Harrell laying down knotty, serpentine lines against Grissett's skronky Rhodes hits and Blake's roiling drum beats. Few jazz musicians in their mid- and late career continue the kind of all-original approach that Harrell has on his handful of Highnote albums, and The Time of the Sun is easily the best example of this. ~ Matt Collar, Rovi All Music Guide

13 May, 2011Tom Harrell Quintet/The Village Vanguard May 10 - 15, 2011 - Wall Street Journal

Tom Harrell Quintet

The Village Vanguard
178 Seventh Ave. South, (212) 255-4037
Through Sunday

At 64, trumpeter Tom Harrell's playing and compositions continue to get better and better. Using the same consistently excellent quintet (saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, keyboardist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jonathan Blake) he's fronted for the last five years and four albums, Mr. Harrell keeps coming up with one intriguing new tune after another, displaying a personal approach to melody, harmony and form—not to mention one of the most beautiful trumpet tones currently out there. He's one of the few bandleaders who can hit us with nine new original compositions in a row and still hold our attention. He also employs tactics that one might in other contexts find gimmicky, like electronic keyboards and the solar-system sounds heard at the start of his excellent new album, "The Time of The Sun," and makes them sound marvelously musical.

08 May, 2011THE TIME OF THE SUN - Audiophile Audition review "Harrell Continues to Impress"

Tom Harrell - The Time of the Sun - High Note HCD 7222, 62:15 ****:

(Tom Harrell, trumpet and flugelhorn; Wayne Escofffery, tenor sax; Danny Grissett, piano and Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Jonathan Blake, drums)

It was just a year ago that we reviewed Tom Harrell’s last recording for High Note Records, Roman Nights.
At that time I marveled at Harrell’s skill in writing catching melodies that both please and intrigue. Well, Tom is back with the same group (always a positive sign as an active band led by an accommodating leader usually brings more positive results.)

Recorded at Systems Two Recording studio in Brooklyn by ace engineer Mike Marciano, The Time of the Sun adds to Harrell’s significance as a brilliant composer. Tom honed his craft with both Horace Silver and Phil Woods, and his most current CDs reflect the emphasis on the groove that especially Silver brought out in his bands.

The Time of the Sun is the fourth CD in a row that Tom has recorded with this working aggregation. They had just finished a November 2010 tour and a week at New York’s venerable Village Vanguard before going into studio to make this recording. This “seasoning" shows immediately on the opening title track after some solar sound effects. Grissett’s Fender Rhodes voicings are interstellar, adding to the mood that Harrell’s warm tone sets, and Jonathan Blake adds a pounding pulse that propels the melody upward.

“Estuary" sets a mellow mood and Harrell’s unparalleled lyrical tone is one that any brass fan will embrace. Grissett and Escoffery also get a chance to show their talents here when soloing. “Ridin" takes off fully charged and Blake’s power and Grissett’s comping on the Rhodes’ keyboard clearly inspire Harrell and the group’s skills bring to mind the mid-60s Miles Davis band. Bassist Okegwo, in his twelfth year with Harrell, gets a nice bass solo on “The Open Door" before the horns blend and Grissett shows his mettle on piano.

“Dream Text" has a radio-friendly melody with hard bop motif, complete with a winning ensemble blend that will appeal to jazz fans of most any genre. Put it in your Pandora mix for late night listening. “Modern Life" also fits into this category as its effervescence bubbles over with exuberance - clearly this band is rock solid in setting a groove.

“Cactus" will win you over as Grissett’s vamp and Escoffery’s fat bluesy runs will keep your feet in motion that continues when Harrell steps up and adds to the changes. “Otra" closes out the CD with a Latin/ Caribbean mix that would bring a smile to Horace Silver, Harrell’s former employer.

Harrell has entered the upper echelon of jazz composers bringing a swing and polished sheen that his cohesive quintet handles with panache. Let’s hope that we don’t have to wait for another year to revisit this excellence.

TrackList: The Time of the Sun, Estuary, Ridin’, The Open Door, Dream Text, Modern Life, River Samba, Cactus, Otra

-- Jeff Krow

27 April, 2011Tom Harrell nominated 2011 "Trumpeter of the Year" by Jazz Journalists Association

Harrell has been nominated "Trumpeter of the Year" along with Wynton Marsalis, Nicholas Payton, Dave Douglas, Ambrose Akinmusire and Jeremy Pelt for the JJA Jazz Awards 2011.

18 February, 2011Harrell to release THE TIME OF THE SUN on May 31, 2011

Tom Harrell will release his fourth album with his working band of six years in the spring of 2011. The quintet, which includes Wayne Escoffery on tenor, Danny Grissett on piano and rhodes, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums, was also featured on Roman Nights (2010), Prana Dance 2009 and Light On (2007).

The title track of the album includes the sounds produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun, recorded by the astronomers at the University of Sheffield and Stanford University.

15 February, 2011ROMAN NIGHTS to receive SESAC JAZZ AWARD

Harrell will receive his fourth SESAC JAZZ AWARD for his 2010 release, ROMAN NIGHTS.

04 January, 2011JAZZIT AWARD 2010 "100 Greatest Jazz Albums"

JAZZIT AWARD 2010 "100 Greatest Jazz Albums"

Tom Harrell


Ascoltando questo album si ha l'impressione di trovarsi al cospetto di un classico a venire. Gli scenari sono di una semplicità solo apparente, in quanto all'interno di un'impalcatura tradizionale (tema, ciclo degli assolo, tema) troviamo una scrittura ibrida e vitale, dove si fondono e convivono swing, latin e moderni even eights. Il trombettista Tom Harrell scolpisce ogni intervento solistico con voce setosa e superba esposizione lirica

24 December, 201030th Festival Jazz Terrassa 2011 announces lineup; Tom Harrell Quintet to perform

Tom Harrell, Eric Alexander y Kurt Elling, estrellas del Festival de Jazz
El Festival de Jazz de Terrassa celebrará en 2011 su treinta aniversario, apretándose el cinturón -tal y como lo reclaman estos tiempos de crisis- como ya ocurriera en la pasada entrega. El evento tendrá lugar entre los próximos 16 de marzo y 3 de abril, treinta años después de su puesta en marcha. El treinta será también el número de conciertos que estarán incluidos en una programación que abrirá, el 16 de marzo, el gran trompetista Tom Harrell.

21 December, 2010Mantova Jazz announces 30th edition of its festival lineup

Tom Harrell Quintet will be performing on March 20, 2011 as part of the Mantova Jazz festival.

20 December, 2010Tom Harrell to perform at Nisville Jazz Festival on August 14, 2011

Nisville Jazz Festival annouces their lineup for their 2011 edition, presents Tom Harrell Quintet

17 December, 2010ROAM NIGHTS named in JazzTimes 2010 Critcis Lists

2010 Critic Ballots Revealed!

By JazzTimes

For our annual year-end Critics’ Poll, we asked our writers to choose what they believe to be the best and most important releases of the past 12 months. Here are their individual lists, covering CDs and box sets that entered the marketplace between Nov. 1, 2009 and Oct. 31, 2010. Some albums may have slipped through the cracks, however, as official release dates shifted or weren’t available. For the full results, check out our January/February 2011 issue, available now digitally and on newsstands Jan. 4. (Subscribers get theirs earlier.) And check back here next week for additional online-only year-in-review coverage.

12 December, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS Detroit Free Press review

By Mark Stryker
Music Critic

The title track of trumpeter, flugelhornist and composer Tom Harrell's "Roman Nights" ( * * * *, High Note) is a ballad of such pure melodic grace and simple harmonic beauty that it brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it. Harrell has always had an ear for poetry; even his complex pieces retain singable ideas and attractive harmony that's challenging without sounding pedantic.

But "Roman Nights," with its sequential phrases sighing like the soft breath of a lover, is special. Harrell and resourceful pianist Danny Grissett give the song a heartrending duo performance, expanding on the mood and melody in their improvisations.

Elsewhere, Harrell's quintet -- with tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake -- reaffirms its place at the top of the post-bop mainstream. Harrell's originals explore an expansive universe of Latin and contemporary rhythms in addition to loose, driving swing, and the band sounds relaxed and dialed in at all times.

10 December, 2010Music gifts for Christmas: From Sinatra to Charles Ives" Detroit Free Press

• Tom Harrell, "Roman Nights" (High Note): State-of-the-art post-bop by one of the most vital and visceral working bands in jazz, with Harrell, a poetic composer, trumpeter and flugelhornist, outdoing himself on the title track, an original ballad so pure and touching that it brings tears to the eyes.

06 December, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS Named in Best of 2010 lists by Jazz Journalists Association Critics

Critics Andrew Gilbert, Paul Blair and Bill King choose ROMAN NIGHTS in their "Best of 2010" lists.

29 November, 2010Mojo Magazine's Top Ten Jazz Albums of the Year: ROMAN NIGHTS

Mojo Magazine chooses ROMAN NIGHTS in their Top 10 Jazz Albums of the Year list.

11 August, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS JazzTimes review

Trumpeter Tom Harrell’s often beautiful, always rigorous solos and outstanding writing are the main strengths of his latest release on HighNote, Roman Nights. The album also displays the various influences that have been integrated into his work, from Latin rhythms to film soundtracks, bop, the classic playing of jazz immortals like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane—even animal sounds. There’s nothing overly flashy or particularly surprising, but Harrell and company never resort to rote or detached presentation. Whether it’s ballads or driving pieces, their expositions, interaction and song development is exuberant and extensive, devoid of gimmicks and done in an energetic yet also disciplined and sophisticated manner.

Besides Harrell, whose mid-register playing is especially crisp and overall instrumental command first-rate, the band includes another tremendous soloist in tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery and a very solid rhythm section featuring pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake. Escoffery can be fiery or smooth, and when he includes in his work quotes from a major influence (Coltrane on “Study in Sound") he does it so cleverly it doesn’t detract from his own rich statements. Blake and Okegwo constantly add neat rhythmic contributions to pieces without becoming intrusive or neglecting their main duties. When they get solo space or featured moments (“Harvest Song," “Storm Approaching," “Obsession") their playing is prominent and exciting.

The title track and “Bird in Flight" boast wonderful arrangements and masterful playing. Harrell’s enticing work on “Roman Nights" has a romantic tinge, while he tempers the sentimentality on “Bird in Flight" with some dashing and rhythmically fiery passages. Even people who despise the electric piano should enjoy the way it’s implemented within the framework of “Study in Sound," with Grissett both playful and energetic in the patterns he plays and the settings he creates.

The Harrell quintet concludes things with flair on “Year of the Ox," one of the disc’s most assertive pieces. It’s the ideal finishing work, spiced by what is perhaps Harrell’s most edgy playing and continued forceful support from the rhythm section. Roman Nights stands as both a compositional and performance standout for the latest Tom Harrell group, as well as one of the year’s better mainstream dates.

02 August, 2010Concert review of Tom Harrell Quintet in allaboutjazz Italia

Casa del Jazz - Roma - 19.7.2010

Ogni passaggio romano di Tom Harrell è preceduto dal febbrile tam tam degli appassionati che si preparano a riceverlo con la stessa emozione di quando in Italia passavano grandi nomi del jazz ora scomparsi. Un'atmosfera di evento piuttosto rara, ma giustificata dall'impatto emotivo che la sua musica esercita. Il suo stile è unico e fuori dagli schemi consueti, ben distinto dal rinascimento bop legata al nome di Wynton Marsalis, lontano da avanguardie sperimentali o correnti alternative. E' la sua musica, dove delicatezza e forza si sposano, Chet Baker trova Woody Shaw, i ritmi brasiliani e funk sono il materiale cesellato da un istinto melodico infallibile, con gli anni sempre più in grado di esprimere il necessario tramite gesti fatti di poche note.

La sua presenza al festival Summertime 2010 della Casa del Jazz ha riempito il parco di un luogo che resiste alle nefaste conseguenze della crisi e Luciano Linzi, nel presentare Harrell, ha fatto bene a esprimere la sua soddisfazione per un evento così seguito. Il trombettista è arrivato con un CD fresco di stampa e dal nome quanto mai appropriato per la serata, Roman Nights. Con lui un gruppo di giovani talenti già ascoltato nel precedente Prana Dance: un quintetto assai rodato, muscolare, mai soffocante.

Johnathan Blake svolge un ruolo centrale, enorme dietro un minuscolo set di batteria, ma la ricchezza del suo stile è inversa ai componenti del suo strumento. Okegwo è bassista di grande agilità e corpo sonoro, collabora da molti anni con Harrell e completa una sezione ritmica tradizionale nel limitato impiego dell'interplay, una tattica necessaria a non destrutturare la musica del leader. Danny Grissett si è mosso con l'eleganza di un John Lewis fra il piano acustico e un Fender Rhodes che è ormai sonorità essenziale nella poetica del trombettista. Wayne Escoffery è tenorista travolgente e torrenziale, importante nel creare contrasto con lo stile di Harrell, ma l'uso limitato delle pause e la tendenza a suonare con poche varianti nelle dinamiche fanno a tratti sentire la mancanza di Jimmy Greene.

Il repertorio del concerto pescava nei due citati lavori per la High Note, che costituiscono la naturale evoluzione nell'ambito del quintetto di dischi precedenti per organici più estesi, fra i quali vale la pena citare l'essenziale Paradise, dove Harrell ha elaborato molto del suo attuale mondo compositivo.

Temi essenziali, dall'impatto ritmico immediato, spesso giocati sullo spostamento all'interno della battuta di un'idea semplice quanto efficace. Studi su sonorità emerse negli anni Settanta, periodo di formazione di Harrell, da lui riviste con sensibilità e gusto, alternando tromba e flicorno. La bellezza e lo spessore umano del suono arricchiscono frasi a volte semplici, altre ingannevoli per quanto non fanno apparire la loro complessità armonica.

Fra i brani ascoltati ricordiamo "Obsession," "Maharaja," "Let the Children Play," "Bird in Flight," "Ride" e soprattutto "Roman Nights" spendida ballad per flicorno e pianoforte, di una dolcezza estrema, difficile da apprezzare in un contesto migliore del parco della Casa del Jazz, malgrado in Italia resti sempre qualcuno intenzionato a non spegnere il cellulare durante un concerto.

Alla fine il pubblico, in piedi ad applaudire entusiasta, è stato ripagato con due bis generosi, all'interno dei quali Okegwo e Blake si sono lanciati in lunghe e convincenti improvvisazioni.

Senza dubbio una bella notte romana.

27 July, 2010Concert review of Tom Hsarrell Quintet in Tomajazz (Spain)

VII Festival de Jazz de Peñíscola

* Fecha: 16 de julio de 2010.
* Lugar: Palau de Congressos, Peñíscola (Castellón).
* Componentes:

Tom Harrell: trompeta y fiscorno
Wayne Escoffery: saxo tenor
Danny Grissett: piano
Ugonna Okegwo: contrabajo
Johnathan Blake: batería


La presente edición del Festival de Jazz de Peñíscola sigue la trayectoria de anteriores entregas, manteniendo un saludable equilibrio entre los grandes nombres de diferentes vertientes del jazz, desde la fusión eléctrica a la faceta vocal y, por supuesto, el post-bop. En este ámbito, el programa contaba con un visitante de lujo con una formación más que asentada: el quinteto del trompetista Tom Harrell.

Quien haya visto a Harrell en directo puede llevarse una impresión un tanto engañosa. Puede parecer ausente o adoptar una postura de marioneta desmadejada mientras la banda evoluciona sobre el escenario. Tal es, en parte, el efecto de la medicación que le ayuda a vencer cada día a la esquizofrenia paranoide con la que convive desde su infancia. Pero su realidad musical es bien distinta.

Según su mujer Angela Harrell, el trompetista se encuentra en una vorágine creativa de composiciones y arreglos, trabajando en su propia visión de la música de Debussy y Ravel, así como arreglando música para voces clásicas y orquesta. Parece que a Harrell no le gusta que le crezca la hierba bajo los pies, puesto que gran parte del repertorio que desarrolló en Peñíscola con el quinteto es de nuevo cuño. Sus nuevos temas, alejados del swing y los standards, parecieron seguir la línea de sus últimos proyectos con el quinteto, apoyándose en el dominio de las melodías marca de la casa y una rítmica variada con ocasionales toques de funk elaborado sobre las que los solistas desarrollan sus discursos. Tan sólo rescató de su última grabación Roman Nights (High Note, 2010) la melodía festiva e infantil –valga la redundancia– de “Let The Children Play", el riff obstinado de “Obsession" y el propio “Roman Nights", un prodigio de sensibilidad, una melodía delicada, casi mágica por su simplicidad, que hizo aflorar las emociones gracias al sonido acariciante del fiscorno del protagonista.

Sus acompañantes funcionan como un solo hombre y constituyen su grupo de trabajo en los últimos años. El contrabajista Ugonna Okegwo lleva colaborando con Harrell más de una década y constituye la columna vertebral del quinteto junto a Danny Grissett, quien realizó un espléndido trabajo armónico al piano, convirtiéndose en ocasiones en una incisiva percusión empleando el Fender Rhodes. Completaba la base el inmenso Jonathan Blake, de cuyo tremendo swing ya disfrutamos en el grupo de Kenny Barron, y que se desenvolvió con igual soltura en las amalgamas más modernas y en el funk, haciendo gala de una espléndida capacidad de escucha y reacción de las que también participaron abundantemente sus compañeros. Completaba la formación el saxofonista Wayne Escoffery, un solista de alto nivel que constituyó el contrapeso a la trompeta en el escenario, jugando a tocar en el límite de la armonía en intervenciones exuberantes y vertiginosas.

Sus acompañantes funcionan como un solo hombre y constituyen su grupo de trabajo en los últimos años. El contrabajista Ugonna Okegwo lleva colaborando con Harrell más de una década y constituye la columna vertebral del quinteto junto a Danny Grissett, quien realizó un espléndido trabajo armónico al piano, convirtiéndose en ocasiones en una incisiva percusión empleando el Fender Rhodes. Completaba la base el inmenso Jonathan Blake, de cuyo tremendo swing ya disfrutamos en el grupo de Kenny Barron, y que se desenvolvió con igual soltura en las amalgamas más modernas y en el funk, haciendo gala de una espléndida capacidad de escucha y reacción de las que también participaron abundantemente sus compañeros. Completaba la formación el saxofonista Wayne Escoffery, un solista de alto nivel que constituyó el contrapeso a la trompeta en el escenario, jugando a tocar en el límite de la armonía en intervenciones exuberantes y vertiginosas.

Aunque en la distancia el protagonista parecía aislarse de lo que le rodeaba, si uno estaba lo bastante cerca podía percibir cómo la música le atravesaba como una corriente eléctrica, cómo Harrell, más allá de la precisión de sus entradas, más allá de su agudeza en las exposiciones de los temas, sentía cada nota que salía de los instrumentos de sus acompañantes y respondía a ellas con gestos contenidos, casi imperceptibles, a pesar de sus ojos cerrados. Su sonido sigue siendo magnífico, aterciopelado, su afinación, perfecta, su habilidad para el discurso fluido, cabal y emocionante… única.

Texto y fotos © 2010 Sergio Cabanillas


25 July, 2010Tom Harrell Music launches youtube channel

Watch video clips of live performances by Tom Harrell Quintet and THQ+Strings

17 July, 2010 El trompetista estadounidense Tom Harrell actuó anoche en el VII Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola

El trompetista estadounidense Tom Harrell actuó anoche en el VII Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola


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El trompetista estadounidense Tom Harrell actuó anoche en el VII Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola para presentar, junto a su quinteto, los temas de su último disco, “Roman Nights".

Más de 400 personas se congregaron ayer en el Palau de Congressos de Peñíscola para escuchar a este músico que está considerado, junto con Wynton Marsalis, el mejor trompetista de la escuela norteamericana. La actuación ha sido única en España, y la última que Harrell ha ofrecido en Europa antes de proseguir su gira por Estados Unidos.

Este ha sido el tercer concierto de la sección oficial del VII Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola, un evento que forma parte de la programación de verano que la conselleria de Cultura y Deporte organiza a través de Castelló Cultural.

16 July, 2010“Qué la música haga que la gente quiera bailar”

“Qué la música haga que la gente quiera bailar"

16/07/2010 DAVID GARCÍA

Harrell actuará en un Palau en el que todavía quedan entradas.

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Harrell actuará en un Palau en el que todavía quedan entradas.MEDITERRÁNEO

El VII Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola acogerá esta noche (23.00 horas) la actuación del quinteto del trompetista norteamericano Tom Harrell. Se trata de una actuación única en España que servirá además para clausurar la gira europea de este excepcional trompetista. Tras su paso por Francia, Italia y otros países europeos, Harrell actuará en el Palau para presentar su nuevo trabajo discográfico, el tercero al frente de su nuevo quinteto.

--Tom Harrell es ampliamente reconocido como uno de los más creativos e inflexibles instrumentistas y compositores de nuestro tiempo. Esta es la forma en que le han presentado en el Festival de Jazz de Peñíscola. ¿Está de acuerdo con esta descripción?

--Gracias por los elogios. Es para mí un honor estar en el festival. No sé si merezco ser descrito así, pero esos son mis objetivos.

--Todo el mundo admira su talento y sensibilidad. ¿De dónde viene su inspiración para hacer sonar su trompeta y fliscorno?

--Mi inspiración proviene de todo lo que experimento. Por ejemplo, viajar es muy inspirador. Te proporciona experiencias diferentes que pueden ser traducidas en buena música y sonidos.

--Durante su brillante carrera ha conocido grandes artistas. ¿Cuáles son sus referencias?

--Dizzie Gillespie, Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham y Blue Mitchell son algunas de mis principales referencias musicales.

--¿Qué podemos encontrar en ‘Roman Nights’? ¿En qué se diferencia de sus otros trabajo?

--Es el tercer álbum con el grupo actual. Hemos estado tocando juntos desde hace casi cinco años. Creo que el quinteto continúa evolucionando según vamos tocando más y más, y mis composiciones también evolucionan con el tiempo. Para mí es todo un placer tocar con tan grandes artistas. Algunos de los temas fueron escritos mientras viajaba por Italia. Obsession y Harvest Song, por ejemplo.

--Ha seleccionado grandes músicos en su actual quinteto. ¿Por qué los eligió? ¿Qué le aportan en el escenario?

--Son maestros en el arte de la forma y cada uno tiene estilos muy individuales. Creo que tenemos mucha química tocando juntos. Me gusta la energía, el entusiasmo, y la vibración positiva que llevan consigo. Y también son todos grandes seres humanos. Es un placer pasar el tiempo con ellos.

--¿Alguna vez había oído hablar del Festival de Jazz de Peñíscola? ¿Qué piensa encontrar en el público peñiscolano de esta noche?

--Sí, he oído hablar del festival. Estoy muy contento de tocar para el público español.

--¿Qué encontrarán los amantes del jazz en su concierto?

--Espero que les guste la actuación. Sería fantástico que la música hiciera que la gente quisiese bailar. Es mi deseo. H

14 July, 2010El trompetista norteamericano Tom Harrell finaliza en Peñíscola su gira por Europa

CULTURA | Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola
El trompetista norteamericano Tom Harrell finaliza en Peñíscola su gira por Europa

* Aclamado como uno de los más creativos músicos de jazz de nuestro tiempo
* Es la única actuación en España del quinteto de este trompetista

ELMUNDO.es | Peñíscola (Castellón)
Actualizado miércoles 14/07/2010 11:58 horas

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El VII Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola acoge este viernes la actuación del quinteto del trompetista norteamericano Tom Harrell. Se trata de una actuación única en España que servirá además para clausurar la gira europea de este excepcional trompetista. Tras su paso por Francia, Italia y otros países europeos, Tom Harrell actúa en la localidad castellonense de Peñíscola para presentar un nuevo trabajo discográfico, el tercero al frente de un nuevo quinteto que el trompetista lleva liderando desde hace casi cinco años.

Éste es el tercer concierto de la sección oficial del Festival Internacional de Jazz de Peñíscola, un evento organizado por la conselleria de Cultura y Deporte a través de Castelló Cultural.

Todavía es posible adquirir entradas para este concierto, que tienen un precio de 20 euros.

Aclamado por el público y la crítica como uno de los más creativos músicos de jazz de nuestro tiempo, Tom Harrell lleva a sus espaldas más de 20 discos como compositor e intérprete, unos trabajos que le avalan como uno de los mejores trompetistas actuales. "Su sonido cálido y bruñido sobre la trompeta y el flugelhorn, y su sofisticación armónica y rítmica en sus composicione e interpretaciones, le han proporcionado a Harrell un lugar más que destacado en el paisaje jazzístico contemporáneo. De hecho, buena parte de la crítica especializada le considera, junto con Wynton Marsalis, el mejor trompetista de la escuela americana", según indican los organizadores del evento.

'Roman Nights' es el tercer álbum y la más reciente propuesta de Harrell que incluye a los miembros de su quinteto actual, con el que visita Peñíscola. Este grupo notablemente cohesionado incluye al saxofonista tenor Wayne Escoffery, el pianista Danny Grissett, baterista Johnathan Blake, y su bajista durante los últimos 12 años, Ugonna Okegwo.

"En contraste con sus grabaciones durante los años RCA/BMG (1996-2003) enfocados sobretodo en proyectos que implican grupos grandes, los últimos álbumes con Highnote demuestran la habilidad de Harrell como líder de grupos pequeños y bien cohesionados, que recuerdan las bandas de Art Blakey y Horace Silver", según añaden las mismas fuentes.

Aunque divide su tiempo entre la composición, actuaciones en directo y grabaciones, Harrell viaja activamente con su quinteto por el mundo entero.

Graduado en composición musical por la Universidad de Stanford, Harrell es un prolífico compositor y arreglista. Además de sus 24 álbumes y cientos de conciertos alrededor del mundo como líder, Harrell ha trabajado con importantes figuras de la historia del jazz como Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Dizzie Gillespie, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Charlie Haden y con contemporáneos como Joe Lovano y Charles McPherson.

09 July, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS review by Ray Comiskey (Irish Tines)

Tom Harrell Roman Nights HighNote

Trumpeter and flügelhornist Tom Harrells third album with his working quintet – Wayne Escoffery (tenor), Danny Grissett (piano/Fender Rhodes), Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Johnathan Blake (drums) - is probably the group’s best yet. Its character is determined as much by Harrell’s many-faceted compositions as the nature of an exceptional band, in which the contrasting playing of the lyrical Harrell and robust Escoffery is ideally framed by an outstanding rhythm section. Combining challenge with originality, the leader’s writing refreshes the parts other writers don’t reach, stimulating memorable performances on the lovely Harvest Song, a lesson in complexity a world removed from merely clever; the unusual, compelling Obsession and Bird In Flight; and Roman Nights, a lyrical flügelhorn-piano duet. This must be one of the best groups in jazz right now.

05 July, 2010Concert review of Tom Harrell Quintet in Ottawa Citizen

Trumpeter at the eye of the storm (concert review)

By peter hum Sun, Jul 4 2010 COMMENTS(0) Jazzblog.ca

Filed under: Tom Harrell, 2010 Ottawa International Jazz Festival, Concert Reviews

The title of trumpeter Tom Harrell's first selection at his TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival show – Storm Approaching – hinted at what was to come with his quintet's show.

His group began with a roar, asserting their driving rhythms as aggressively as any other festival attraction. On this opener, and throughout the concert, the music was dialed up to be both ferocious and loud – even when it was otherwise tuneful and upbeat.

When Harrell wasn't playing, he stood motionless and with his head bowed, a stance explained by the medication the trumpeter takes to manage his schizophrenia. He was very much the calm at the eye of the storm, until he put his horn to his lips and merged with the intensity of the music surrounding him.

On the insistent Obsession, the rocking Bird In Flight, and even the groovy Let The Children Play, Harrell's group brought the music to the boiling point. Harrell would dive in at the appointed time, playing pure, urgent melodies. On Obsession, he sounded not just like Miles Davis, but like Davis on one of his best days.

The ballad Roman Nights, a beautiful duet for pianist Danny Grissett and Harrell on flugelhorn, was the one break from the hard hitting.

Another change of pace would have added variety to the arc of Harrell's set. However, the trumpeter must be presenting the music as he hears and wants it. Perhaps the maelstrom of rhythm and volume is what he needed Sunday to set his personal music free.

13 June, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS - 100 Greatest Albums review

'Roman Nights' is Tom Harrell's third album for HighNote and it shows the growth that comes from having a stable basis for keeping together a band that, over a five year period, has established itself as one of the best in jazz.

The nine originals cover the full range of Tom Harrell's gifted musical imagination - the edgy forwarnings of 'Storm Approaching', 'Agua' and 'Year Of The Ox'; the uplift and optimism of 'Let The Children Play' and 'Bird In Flight'; the outright beauty of 'Roman Nights' and 'Harvest Song'; the continuation of the study in melodic/harmonic/rhythmic complexity of 'Study In Sound', 'Bird In Flight' and 'Obsession'.

Tom Harrell's comments to Doug Ramsey on the album liner notes are revealing of his approach:

'I enjoy complex structures….. but having a melody that's song-like is a way to link with a listener. The harmonies may still have complexity, but the melody can lead the listener to feel what the music expresses."

Doug Ramsey points to the coming together of influences in Tom Harrell's approach – Anonio Carlos Jobim's use of melody; Bela Bartok's development of the relationships between melody and harmonic intervals; folk music from Asia, Latin America and Africa; Charlie Parker's sense of harmony.

He quotes Tom Harrell's comments on what he learned from Dizzie Gillespie on the importance of rhythm:

'(Dizzie) said that no matter how beautiful the notes you might select, the rhythmic placement - were you put the note - can affect its beauty. There's an influence between rhythm and harmony. The impact of a chord is very much determined by rhythmic placement, duration and tempo. If you let the chord breathe and give it time to resound, it has a different impact than if it's played percussively with a very short value. Both approaches can establish the beauty of the note. Finding good rhythmic placement is an ongoing search.'

In this search Tom Harrell is joined by musicians at the top of their form. The band - Tom Harrell (trumpet, flugelhorn), Wayne Escoffery (tenor saxophone), Danny Grissett (piano, Fender Rhodes), Ugonna Okegwo (bass), Johnathan Blake (drums) - handles the complex rhythms and rapid chord changes with style and produces some great performances with Tom Harrell himself and Wayne Escoffery particularly outstanding in fine solos and harmonized statements of the themes. The overdubbed harmonised horns on 'Let The Children Play' are particularly appealing.

And there is risk taking too. The opening six or seven notes of 'Roman Nights' strongly suggest the Webster/Fain standard 'Love Is A Many Splendored Thing' before the ballad departs on its own path to deliver a stand out feature for Tom Harrell on flugelhorn.

This is intelligent, enjoyable jazz that takes Tom Harrell's remarkable exploration of the form a further step along the way and points to the seminal nature of his innovative contribution.

22 May, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS reaches #1 on US jazz radio charts

ROMAN NIGHTS is the Number One Jazz Album for the week of May 24, 2010.

22 May, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS - Mojo Magazine UK review

Tom Harrell
4 stars


A supreme trumpet/flugelhorn player, Tom Harrell has an endless flow of bubbling, intricate ideas conveyed with an almost serene delivery. His equal ability as a formidable post-bop composer remains in full flower on this melodic, sharply conceived music. From dangerous tear-ups (Storm Approaching) to near abstract (Study in Sound) to conventional balladry (Roman Nights), Harrell is a master.

22 May, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS - Jazziz review

It's obvious from the outset that this isn't going to be one of those albums that sneaks up on the listener. No, Harrell and his bandmates jump in and grab you right from the start. "Storm Approaching" opens with complementary riffs from Harrell's trumpet and Wayne Escoffery's saxophone, while Johnathan Blake's deft trap work sets off the licks. Harrell then takes away a lyrical solo, followed by Escoffery with support from the rhythm section of Blake, pianist Danny Grissett (whose own solo is both complex and delightful) and bassist Ugonna Okegwo. The approach is similar- with an especially imaginative solo from Escoffery --on the lilting following track, "Let the Children Play," which is a bit more straightforward. The title track is a gentle ballad that nonetheless demonstrates Harrell's technical prowess. "Study in Sound" showcases Harrell first and then the always inquisitive and expressive Escoffery before Okegwo gets his shot up front.

The quintet clearly listens to one another. Even when Harrell and Escoffery are at their most fiery and frenetic, as on "Agua," and "Obsession," the band is right there with them. Grissett's solos are uniformly inspired but he's also brilliant in the background. Okegwo keeps things solid enough for his bandmates to frolic at will. And those paying close attention will realize what a gem this band has manning the drum kit. Blake thrives at setting things up for either the horns or Grissett's piano and Fender Rhodes. His stickwork is seldom flashy, but always deft and animated, keeping things moving along. By turns passionate, lyrical and joyous, this engaging disc is sure to find its way to many "Best of" lists for 2010.

03 May, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS review by Jeff Krow

Tom Harrell - Roman Nights - High Note HCD 7207 - 62:36 ****½:
A winning formula.

(Tom Harrell, trumpet and Flugelhorn; Wayne Escoffery, tenor sax; Danny Grissett, piano and Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo, bass; Jonathan Blake, drums)

Tom Harrell has kept his latest band together for some time now and it shows. Tom is fully in control on Roman Nights as he wrote all the compositions, and co-produced the CD. Having seen Harrell in person, it is remarkable when he walks offstage and disappears, yet when it is time for another solo or for an ensemble chorus, he is right back at the microphone almost with telepathic quickness.
Tom is noted for writing winning melodies that both charm and inspire; he alludes to this in the liner notes written by noted jazz historian Doug Ramsey, when he states that “…having a melody that’s song-like and simple is a way to link with the listener." I’d have to add that having a quintet that is as sharp as Harrell’s quintet makes Tom’s mission that much more consistently approachable.

Let the Children Play is a strong example of this band’s skills. The track open with a winning melody simply stated before Wayne Escoffery begins his tenor run, mixing the edgy with swing. Harrell next steps up and his warm tone has such lyricism that the rest of the band can cook behind him both with Grissett’s crystalline lightning fast comping, to Blake’s driving beat spurring on Harrell’s solo. It’s a winning combination and so easy on the ears.
The title track is simply gorgeous and sounds like it would be perfect as a theme to a movie. Few can match Harrell for Flugelhorn beauty. Grissett’s accompaniment is spot on here as well and demands your rapt attention.

Aqua picks up the pace considerably, and is a centerpiece for Jonathan Blake, as the quintet defers to his power, though Escoffery goes off on a “Coltranesque" tear midway through the track.
Harvest Song has a calming beauty with Harrell’s trumpet being set off by Grissett’s Fender Rhodes light touch, and a soulful Escoffery solo.

Roman Nights bears repeated listening sessions as with each visit you will find new auditory treasures to savor. Its sound mix and mastering are also first rate.
TrackList: Storm Approaching, Let the Children Play, Roman Nights, Study in Sound, Agua, Obsession, Harvest Song, Bird in Flight, Year of the Ox

- Jeff Krow

03 May, 2010The Magical Artistry of Tom Harrell -by John Raymond

Whew…long time between blog posts. YIKES. I told myself that I had to write about the 2 times I’ve seen trumpeter Tom Harrell in the past month – both have been absolutely incredible.

I first saw Tom play @ the Village Vanguard with his band, very shortly after he released his latest CD, “Roman Nights" (check it out here…) The new music he’s writing is really incredible, first off. I got a chance to chat with the drummer Johnathan Blake after the first set and he was telling me that Tom is always writing for the band and, because they’ve been together for some time now, he’s really starting to settle in a groove of how to write best for the group. But above all, Tom’s playing was out of this world. It helped that he was having an on FIRE night – it seemed like every single note he played was like it’s own masterpiece. It’s unbelievable to me how, despite Tom’s trumpet playing not being nearly what it was years ago, there still lies a purity and a subtle power in his playing that I’ve never heard anyone else come even remotely close to displaying. His phrasing continues to be more impeccable over the years, and his ideas and motives are strung together in way that defies beauty. Those two sets were life changing for me, musically…what an incredible thing to hear such beauty and cohesiveness in a trumpeter.

Second, I caught him playing with the SUNY Purchase Latin Jazz Orchestra and, while it was a completely different situation, Tom still brought his artistry up to another level. It’s truly amazing to me to see someone create like he does – always spontaneous and always so cohesive. Talk about someone making BEAUTIFUL melodies – which is what the heart of this music is.

Do yourself a favor and seriously check out Tom Harrell (esp. Roman Nights) if you haven’t much – it’s worth every second. Also, here’s a short list of youtube videos that are stellar too…

02 May, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS featured review in allaboutjazz Italia

Nella sua lunga carriera Tom Harrell ci ha abituato a livelli costanti di eccellenza. Le varie fasi della sua discografia mostrano un'evoluzione logica e continua. Libero dalle esigenze progettuali che sono il corpo di molte carriere sotto i riflettori, Harrell ha sviluppato e continua a far crescere la sua visione, dall'apparenza tradizionale per chi è ormai abituato a vedere l'avanguardia nella macrostrutture e nei manifesti. In realtà il jazz segue regole diverse da quelle che ideologie e pseudo romanticismo hanno voluto imporgli. Ha molto più valore innovativo una frase suonata in uno standard e da tutti ripresa, di mille grandi dichiarazioni intellettuali.

Nella quotidianità della sua poesia, Harrell ha costruito un mondo che non perde di fascino e continua a incantare per l'umanità che esprime, lontana dal dolore che la sua esistenza porterebbe a supporre. Non vi è traccia di ansia o depressione nelle composizioni e improvvisazioni, anzi troviamo una straordinaria vitalità, serena, dinamica, danzante o cullante, mai oppressiva.

La scrittura si muove attorno alcune strategie che Harrell trae dall'esperienza più avanzata del jazz anni Sessanta e costituiscono la naturale evoluzione di Wayne Shorter, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard o Woody Shaw.

Melodie di ingannevole e accattivante cantabilità sottendono sviluppi armonici che nella loro fluidità superano l'armonia funzionale bebop e ci immergono in ambiti dove i colori maggiori e minori scivolano uno nell'altro con una facilità che annulla le stranezze del movimento dei bassi. Le sue caratteristiche sequenze di accordi minori aprono a colori armonici innovativi, oltre a proporre percorsi stimolanti per l'improvvisatore, indotto, come nel mondo di Shorter, a trovare le note comuni sottostanti i cambi, per sviluppare con esse fraseggi che appartengono nelle radici al mondo bop e modale, ma escono dalle cadenze più classiche di questi linguaggi, centrali nell'attuale esperienza jazz.

Roman Nights prosegue il discorso iniziato da Prana Dance: la nuova musica per quintetto che il trombettista ci propone tramite l'etichetta High Note. Negli anni quella fantasia melodica che aveva affascinato già con "Moon Alley" ha mantenuto la sua forza e si è mossa alternando linee di grande respiro a una gestualità minimale, fatta di riff molto brevi, incisivi, spesso asimmetrici rispetto alla divisione della battuta e dotati di un groove ipnotico.

Molto di questo mondo trova la sua radice in Paradise (2001), capolavoro nel quale il quintetto di allora incontrava un piccolo assieme di archi e arpa. In quel disco troviamo la pienezza e profondità della poetica di Harrell, ora sviluppata con un nuovo, giovane organico, molto Blue Note nella sua combinazione di forza e agilità. Della vecchia formazione resta solo Ugonna Okegwo, bassista ammirevole per timbro, sensibilità e scioltezza nel muoversi lungo le linee ideate dal leader, spesso articolati su percorsi soul o brasiliani.

Grissett e Blake sono musicisti attenti, intensi, in grado di mantenere l'assetto classico delle ritmiche afroamericane, dedite a creare quello swing che, nelle sue varie forme, è elemento filosofico centrale al jazz.

Wayne Escoffery ha preso al tenore il posto di Jimmy Greene ed è un raffronto impegnativo. Il suo stile offre virtuosismo, generosa emotività, grande cultura e un suono di grande spessore. D'altro canto (e più dal vivo che in studio) l'impiego delle dinamiche è ridotto e tendente soprattutto al forte e il senso della pausa latita. Resta un indubbio talento che al fianco di Harrell ha tutte le possibilità di crescere.

Fra i brani del CD ricordiamo "Let the Children Play" e "Obsession," due diversi modi di intendere i temi a riff, il primo morbido, sereno, il secondo incalzante e ipnotico. "Agua" è un ulteriore esempio di come il Brasile nutra la musica di Harrell. "Study in Sound" è caratterizzato dalle sonorità del Fender Rhodes, un elemento che il trombettista impiega con rara efficacia.

L'apice del CD è "Roman Nights," una ballad per tromba e flicorno che in alcuni passaggi ricorda "Peace" di Horace Silver ed è fra le cose più belle ascoltate nel jazz di questi anni.

26 April, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS review by John Kelman

By John Kelman
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Joined AAJ in 2003

With the realization that there will always be more music coming at him than he can keep up with, AAJ Managing Editor John Kelman wonders why anyone would think that jazz is dead or dying.

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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 members of Harrell's quintet continues to refine and grow even more empathic with each passing year. The short but completely to the point solos on the aptly titled opener, "Storm Approaching," not only demonstrate the exhilarating interplay between accompanists and soloists, but amongst the accompanists themselves, as drummer Johnathan Blake, in particular, accomplishes the remarkably multi-tasked challenge of responding simultaneously to both pianist Danny Grissett and Wayne Escoffery, during the saxophonist's fiery solo.

But he's not the only one who's clearly listening. Again on the disc opener, as solos are passed—first from Harrell to Escoffery, and then on to Grissett—it's as if the transitions were scored; except, of course, they're not. A final barnstorming solo from Blake, over a driving ostinato, amply explains why the increasingly busy drummer, in addition to his tenure with Harrell, has been finding employment with artists ranging from vibraphonist Joe Locke to septuagenarian saxophonist Oliver Lake. Bassist Ugonna Okegwo, another busy player with modern mainstreamers like Jacky Terrasson, Ari Ambrose and D.D. Jackson, anchors the entire disc with firm but pliant support. Soloing rarely, when he does it's a treat; his extended workout on "Study in Sound," one of Harrell's more complicated charts, is a combination of lithe lyricism and compositional intent.

As impressive as the members of Harrell's quintet are—individually and collectively—it's never about acumen being an end. Instead, it's a clear and focused means for everyone, where rhythmic placement and weaving through Harrell's sometimes rapid, other times more languid changes is all about finding new ways to shape melody. Whether it's on the brief but incendiary modal workout of "Agua," the Latin- esque "Obsession" or bass riff-driven "Let the Children Play," Escoffery—his Wayne Shorter roots clear but equally subsumed as but one parameter of his own voice—and Harrell make a potent frontline that's equally capable of gentle, almost folkloric tranquility on the deceptively simple sounding "Harvest Song," where there's clearly a lot more sophistication going on under the hood.

With even great emphasis on Grissett's Fender Rhodes than ever before, there's an ethereal, dreamlike quality that imbues much of Roman Nights, even at brighter tempos like "Bird in Flight" Throughout, Harrell has never sounded better, his dulcet plangency a reminder that it's not necessary to be oblique in order to be progressive. As with his previous HighNote sets, Roman Nights is another fine entry from one of the contemporary mainstream's most memorable players and telepathically transcendent quintets.

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.

18 April, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS review by Robert Dugan

Roman Nights
Tom Harrell | HighNote Records (2010)

By Robert Dugan
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NYC native. Ph.D. Jazz fan since birth. College English Assistant Professor. Published poet.

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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 Escoffrey: soprano and tenor saxophones; Danny Grissett: piano, Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Jonathan Blake: drums.

14 April, 2010Tom Harrell Nominated for Trumpeter of the Year/2010 JJA Jazz Awards by Jazz Journalists Jazz Asscociation

Tom Harrell is nominated Trumpeter of the Year for the 2010 Jazz Journalist Association's Jazz Awards.

04 April, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS review by Tim Niland

Trumpeter Tom Harrell has become one of the most consistently excellent musicians in mainstream jazz, carving an impressive niche for himself as both a trumpeter and as a composer. On this album he is accompanied by his regular touring band with Wayne Escoffery on tenor saxophone, Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. Harrell and Escoffery make for a very appealing front line, Harrell has very clear sound and clean articulation of his musical ideas on the trumpet, while Escoffery's tenor has a rougher and gritter sound that contrasts nicely with the bell like clarity of Harrell's trumpet. The rhythm team is locked in nicely with Grissett switching to fender rhodes electric piano at times to give different textures and shadings to the music. "Storm Approaching" and "Let the Children Play" open the album with two fast paced performances. The first, is a straight ahead burner and the second is lifted with a buoyant rhythm and piano comping that gives it a bright and joyous feel. Both of these tracks feature punchy trumpet and strong deeply rooted tenor saxophone. "Obsession" takes a different track, using smears of trumpet against a more ominous backdrop, for a darkly tinged performance. The music on this album is consistently good, providing a good example of Tom Harrell's view of modern jazz. The group's sound is key to the albums success, there's a coherent sense of purpose the fuels the music on this album.

18 March, 2010ROMAN NIGHTS review by Richard Kamins

Roman Nights - Tom Harrell (HighNote) - Harrell's 3rd CD for HighNote is also the third consecutive release with his working quintet of Wayne Escoffery (tenor saxophone), Danny Grissett (piano, Fender Rhodes), Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Johnathan Blake (drums). That the younger musicians understand the ins-and-outs of the leader's music is a foregone conclusion and this collection of 9 originals shines brightly from the opening moments to the final notes.

Over the 4 decades, one has been made aware of the consistent high quality of Harrell's projects, his intense love for melody as well as rhythm and his fine solo work (one of my favorites is his breathy closing statement on David Berkman's "Sense of Loss" - hear it here.)

The title track of this recording is a pretty ballad played as a duet with pianist Grissett. The tune is evocative of summer nights and is more joyful than maudlin - nothing is rushed and the lovely, long, melody line drifts on fine piano chords. Much of the work here is up-tempo, starting with "Storm Approaching", the first cut. The trumpet swoops above Blake's high-powered drums and Okegwo's forceful "walking" bass lines. Escoffery lets loose with a short yet powerful tenor solo that seemingly raises the music to its boiling point.

Grissett's switch to Fender Rhodes on the rhythmical "Obsession" brings to mind Miles Davis and his "Filles de Kilimanjaro" music. Both Harrell and Escoffery ride Blake's insistent drumming, each pushing the percussionist to up the intensity. The intensity drops a bit for Grissett's solo yet listen to Blake continuing to accent the beat on his "ride" cymbal and snare while the bassist holds the bottom with his thick-toned phrases. "Bird in Flight" is one more piece where the Fender Rhodes shapes the overall sound and Harrell's melodic yet percussive melody and frequent chord changes gives the work a feeling that is always "rising", like the birds in the title. "Year of the Ox" closes the CD with another insistent rhythm track - the piece has a a marvelous blend of Chinese and Latin influences and more great work from Blake.

Jazz is definitely not "dead" when an album as inventive and exciting as "Roman Nights" crosses one's desk. Honestly, there are moments when I hit "replay" because the tune was so solid or the solos highly exciting. The CD goes on sale March 23 and the Quintet plays the Village Vanguard from March 30 through April 4. This program sounds great coming through the speakers but would certainly be fun in a live setting. For more information, go to http://tomharrell.com.

22 February, 2010PRANA DANCE receives SESAC National Performance Activity Award

SESAC, the most innovative and fastest growing performing rights organization in the US, honors Tom Harrell with its National Performance Activity Award for his top charting album, PRANA DANCE. Awards ceremony is scheduled to be held on March 29, 2010.

18 February, 2010What He's Listening To: Seth Abramson (from Crain's New York Business)

By Valerie Block

Seth Abramson, the artistic director of Jazz Standard, spends much of his day listening to recordings of artists who want to perform at the West 27th Street club. He gets as many as 100 submissions a month. Often the music acts as background noise, but “if it catches my attention and my ears perk up, that can inform my decision," he says.

When Mr. Abramson has some downtime, he logs on to Wolfgang's Vault, a site that streams vintage concerts for free. “They've got a war chest of unbelievable music—from Led Zeppelin to Miles Davis," he says.

When he's driving, he puts his iPhone on Pandora.com, which lets listeners create their own radio stations. Two favorite records these days: Prana Dance by trumpeter Tom Harrell and Mwaliko from guitarist Lionel Loueke, who'll perform at the club Feb. 25-28.

16 February, 2010excerpt of 2/12/10 radio interview uploaded

click on "media" to hear excerpts of the KUVO Jazz89 (Denver) radio interview

13 January, 2010new CD, ROMAN NIGHTS, to be released March 23, 2010

Tom Harrell Quintet's new album, ROMAN NIGHTS, will be released March 23, 2010. Featuring the tight-knit band comprising Wayne Escoffery (tenor sax), Danny Grissett (piano and Fender Rhodes), Ugonna Okegwo (bass) and Johnathan Blake (drums), ROMAN NIGHTS, is a compilation of some of Harrell's latest compositions.

Track Listing:

1. Storm Approaching
2. Let the Children Play
3. Roman Nights
4. Study in Sound
5. Agua
6. Obsession
7. Harvest Song
8. Bird in Flight
9. Year of the Ox

Produced by Tom Harrell, Wayne Escoffery and Angela Harrell and recorded at Bennett Studios on November 27, 2009 and December 15, 2009.

02 January, 2010PRANA DANCE "Top 10 New Jazz Recordings for 2009"

From Detroit Free Press:

Tom Harrell, "Prana Dance": The post-bop trumpeter-flugelhornist and composer's gratifying quintet seems to channel the leader's values: glistening melodic lyricism, sophisticated harmony, formal ingenuity and a visceral, contemporary rhythm.


William Ruhlmann

New Releases:
1. Tom Harrell Prana Dance (HighNote)
2. Ruby Braff For the Last Time (Arbors)
3. Carol Welsman I Like Men: Reflections of Miss Peggy Lee (Welcar)
4. Steve Davis Eloquence (Jazz Legacy)
5. Preservation Hall Jazz Band New Orleans Preservation Vol. 1 (Preservation Hall)
6. Eddie Daniels & Roger Kellaway A Duet of One: Live at the Bakery (IPO)
7. Bob Florence Limited Edition Legendary (MAMA)
8. Clayton Brothers Brother to Brother (ArtistShare)
9. Resonance Big Band Introducing Marian Petrescu Resonance Big Band Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson
10. Dark Chocolate Unwrapped (Megawave)

01 January, 2010PRANA DANCE "Best Jazz Discs of 2009"

Philip Booth, Jazz Journalist Association

Tom Harrell, Prana Dance (Highnote) – The trumpeter leads his tight-knit quintet on compositions that are brainy yet emotionally engaging.

30 December, 2009PRANA DANCE "Top Picks for 2009" by Redwood Jazz Alliance

Tom Harrell, Prana Dance (Half Note).

The veteran trumpeter/flugelhornist’s second album with a quintet of energetic young apprentices (Danny Grissett, Wayne Escoffery, Ugonna Okegwo, Johnathan Blake) serves up catchy but complex compositions and water-tight playing.

20 May, 2009PRANA DANCE 5-star review allaboutjazz italia

Prana Dance
Tom Harrell | HighNote Records - distr. IRD (2009)

di Maurizio Zerbo

Lirismo e potenza dinamica del beat: sono due antitetiche visioni del fare musica, incredibilmente giustapposti in questo meraviglioso disco. Pubblicato a pochi mesi di distanza da Light On, Prana Dance ne dilata lo straniamento sonoro tra il mood malinconico del leader e funkeggianti arzigogoli ricchi di groove.

Quelle di Harrell sono composizioni cantabili di poche ma geniali pennellate, tratteggiate da un quintetto stratosferico, forse il miglior gruppo jazz di oggi. Provate ad ascoltare a caso uno degli otto temi e sarete incantati da brevi figure di tre/quattro note, con iterative progressioni ascendenti e discendenti che approdano verso territori di pura poesia.

Per rendersi meglio conto di ciò, basta ascoltare la title-track, dove il climax espressivo ricco di frenetiche giustapposizioni ritmiche non dà tregua all'ascoltatore e lo rapisce. A far lievitare il tutto, il pathos inconfondibile di Harrell, genio musicale non riconosciuto dei nostri tempi.

I suoi giovani (a parte Ugonna Okegwo) compagni di viaggio saranno i protagonisti del jazz di domani. Sul sassofonista Escoffery si sono già concentrate l'attenzioni del pubblico grazie ad alcuni notevoli album. Tutto da assaporare lo scoppiettante drumming di Johnathan Blake (segnatevi questo cognome!), pronto ora ad incalzare il leader con trascinanti figurazioni ritmiche, ora colorando in modo minimale i contorni della ballad.

Grissett, è forse l'unico tastierista degli ultimi trent'anni ad aver evitato il solito tocco convenzionale allo strumento elettrico, infondendovi linfa spumeggiante. E a dispetto di quanto ci lasci suggerire la prima parte del titolo del CD impregnato di spiritualità indù, è una musica che ci fa ballare. Una musica che una volta finita, ti viene voglia di riassaporarla e di non averne mai abbastanza.


Visita il sito di Tom Harrell.

Valutazione: 5 stelle

Elenco dei brani:
01. Marching; 02. Prana; 03. Sequenza; 04. Maharaja; 05. The Call; 06. Ride; 07, The Sea Serpent; 08. In The Infinite.
Tutti i brani sono di Tom Harrell.

Tom Harrell (tromba, flicorno); Wayne Escoffery (sax tenore, soprano); Ugonna Okegwo (contrabbasso); Danny Grissett (pianoforte, tastiere); Johnathan Blake (batteria).

Stile: Modern Jazz

18 May, 2009PRANA DANCE review by David Adler

Prana Dance
Tom Harrell | HighNote Records (2009)

By David Adler
David Adler
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Joined AAJ in 1999
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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 April, 2009.

Harrell's quintet is essentially an apprenticeship band, allowing a succession of young sidemen to train at length with a master, just as Harrell did years ago with Horace Silver and Phil Woods. The fruits of that creative exchange in the music can be heard, which Harrell, now 62, manages to keep consistently fresh despite the ravages of mental illness. His singable riffs and odd chromatic patterns have an irresistible logic, posing the knottiest of challenges for improvisers without indulging in difficulty for its own sake. The tangled 5/8 of "Prana," the motific parallelisms and bright swing of "Sequenza," the contrasting funk pulses of "Marching," "Maharaja" and "Ride"; these elements stick firmly in the mind after one listen, a rare quality in modern jazz. At the Vanguard, "Prana" went through half- and double-time swing variations, in a rich departure from the studio take. "Marching," too, seemed to shine more brightly.

Grissett, one of the most promising of today's pianists, plays Fender Rhodes on half of the disc's eight numbers, lending a sonic profile of shadows and mist. It's most dramatic on "The Sea Serpent," the penultimate track, which begins at a ballad tempo and edges into forceful walking swing. Until Escoffery enters with a patient series of half-notes, there are no horns at all. Grissett sketches the harmonic outline in trio mode, allowing us to hear Harrell the composer in starkest relief. There was no Rhodes at the Vanguard, but Grissett evoked similar mysteries with a rubato intro to the ballad "Nighttime".

Harrell's music has always transcended his instrument and yet when he plays, look out. His solos, on trumpet and flugelhorn, pack profound ideas into short timeframes and evince a staggering command of harmony. His performances on Prana Dance are full of surprise, but his tone and attack at the Vanguard, on the up-tempo "Blue News" and the metrically shifting, as-yet-unrecorded Latin piece "Otra," were even stronger. For all his frailty, he remains one of the music's most substantial figures.

Track listing: Marching; Prana; Sequenza; Maharaja; The Call; Ride; The Sea Serpent; In the Infinite.

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

14 May, 2009Tom Harrell "Der Allerbeste" feature article in Jazzthing.de

Tom Harrell. Der Allerbeste [1/2]

Tom Harrell
weitere features

Zu den Lieblingen von Jazz thing gehört er schon lange, in den Jahrescharts der Mitarbeiter landen seine Alben immer auf den vorderen Plätzen. Mit seiner neuen CD „Prana Dance“ (High Note/ZYX) ist dem amerikanischen Trompeter Tom Harrell erneut ein packendes und dichtes Meisterwerk des zeitgenössischen Jazz gelungen.

Ein reines Vergnügen ist ein Interview mit Tom Harrell nicht. Sehr schleppend und träge kommen seine Antworten, manchmal ist er kaum zu verstehen. Diese Kommunikationsschwierigkeiten dürften den Nebenwirkungen der Medikamente geschuldet sind, die der Trompeter nimmt, um seine Schizophrenie in Schach zu halten. Doch wenn er sich erstmal warmgelaufen hat, kommt Tom Harrell richtig ins Erzählen – und man merkt, dass er außer dem Musikmachen selbst nichts lieber macht, als sich darüber zu unterhalten.
„Er ist der Allerbeste“, hat Kollege Jack Walrath einst über ihn gesagt, und in der Tat gehört Tom Harrell zu der ehrwürdigen Spezies der „musician‘s musician“, was leider auch bedeutet, dass seine Bedeutung und sein Prestige in der Öffentlichkeit beileibe nicht so groß sind, wie er es verdient hätte – vom Absatz seiner CDs einmal ganz zu schweigen.

Dabei hat der Trompeter, der 1946 in Illinois geboren wurde, schon früh mit den ganz Großen gespielt. Er startete Ende der Sechzigerjahre in Stan Kentons Big Band und ging mit 24 in die Band von Woody Herman. In den Mittsiebzigern war er Mitglied in der Gruppe von Horace Silver, und schon 1976 veröffentlichte er sein erstes Soloalbum. Der Saxofonist Phil Woods holte ihn in den Achtzigerjahren in sein Quintett, dem er bis 1989 angehörte. Seit zwanzig Jahren ist er vorrangig unter eigenem Namen unterwegs, und auf seinen Platten sind Sidemen wie Kenny Garrett, Kenny Baron, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Danilo Perez, Leon Parker, Billy Hart, Charlie Haden, Reggie Johnson und Art Farmer zu hören. Zu seinen herausragenden Platten aus den letzten Jahren zählen „Paradise“ (Bluebird 2001), „Live At The Village Vanguard“ (Bluebird 2002) und „Light On“ (High Note 2007).

Auf „Light On“ hatte Tom Harrell auch schon das Quintett beieinander, das jetzt auf „Prana Dance“ zu hören ist. Mit dem Bassisten Ugonna Okegwo spielt Harrell schon seit zehn Jahren zusammen. „Ugonna hat ein wunderbares ,time feeling‘,“ schwärmt Tom Harrell. „Ich mag seine ganze Herangehensweise, und er ist ein Fundament meiner Band.“

Der Schlagzeuger Jonathan Blake treibt die gar nicht einfachen, aber stets selbstverständlich erscheinenden Kompositionen Harrells unerbittlich voran, kann aber auch Balladen einfühlsam gestalten. Mit dem Keyboarder Danny Grissett hat Tom Harrell einen Glücksgriff getan – insbesondere dessen Spiel auf den Fender Rhodes prägt „Prana Dance“ wie sonst nur Harrells Trompete. „Ich habe Danny in Philadelphia kennengelernt, wo wir zusammen gespielt haben“, erinnert der Trompeter sich. „Er ist ein sehr individueller Musiker – ich mag aber auch, wie er sich auf dem akustischen Piano anhört.“

Zweiter Bläser von Harrells Quintett ist der Sopran- und Tenorsaxofonist Wayne Escoffery. Escoffery, der seit knapp zehn Jahren in leitender Funktion in der Charles Mingus Big Band tätig ist, hat nicht nur einen mächtigen Sound, sondern unterstützt zum Beispiel auch die Musik seiner Frau Carolyn Leonhart, die schon für Steely Dan am Mikrofon gestanden hat. „Wayne klingt großartig“, sagt Tom Harrell. „Als ich ihn kennen lernen wollte, hatte ich eine CD von ihm gehört, die mich sehr beeindruckt hat. Und ich bin immer noch beeindruckt von ihm.“

Außer für sein flüssiges und lyrisches, aber gleichzeitig auch sehr kraftvolles Spiel auf Trompete und Flügelhorn wird Tom Harrell von anderen Musikern vor allem für seine Kompositionen geschätzt. Hohe Komplexität bei maximaler Griffigkeit verleihen seinen Stücken eine fast beispiellose Eindringlichkeit, und seine Themen, die man schon nach kurzer Zeit mitsummen kann, setzen sich schnell im Ohr fest. Frickelige ,time changes‘, komplizierte Breaks und voluminöse Grooves verbindet Harrell mit einer Leichtigkeit, die seiner Musik eine offensive Zugänglichkeit verleihen – gleichzeitig scheint sie nicht ganz von dieser Welt zu sein. Beispiele dafür gibt es auf „Prana Dance“ zuhauf: Da ist das majestätische „Maharaja“ oder der vorwärts drängende Opener „Marching“. Für eine gefühlvolle Ballade wie „The Sea Serpent“ würden viele Jazzmusiker wohl ihren rechten Arm opfern.

Die Konzentration auf die eigene Stärke als Komponist hat er einem seiner Mentoren zu verdanken. „Obwohl ich schon eine Solokarriere verfolgte, als ich bei Phil Woods spielte“, betont Tom Harrell, „war er es, der mich ermutigte, eigene Stücke zu schreiben.“

Mittlerweile ist das Komponieren für den Trompeter zur zweiten Natur geworden. „Ich versuche immer, soviel zu komponieren, wie ich kann“, erzählt Tom Harrell. „Die Quelle meiner Inspiration ist oft eine Idee. Zum Glück habe ich fast immer Ideen, das ist ganz natürlich geworden für mich. Je mehr man komponiert, desto natürlich wird es – das ist wie mit dem Improvisieren. Der Vorteil der Komposition ist jedoch, dass man die Ideen auf einem Blatt Papier wieder ändern und herumschieben kann. Beim Improvisieren kann man die Ideen nicht festhalten – sie kommen und gehen.“

„Prana Dance“ hat Tom Harrell zusammen mit seiner Frau Angela, die auch seine Managerin ist, und Wayne Escoffery produziert. „Es hat wirklich Spaß gemacht, die Stücke zu schreiben“, murmelt er zum Schluss des Gesprächs. Am vierten Juli ist Tom Harrell mit seinem Quintett beim Duisburger Traumzeit-Festival zu erleben.

Rolf Thomas

10 May, 2009PRANA DANCE review by Doug Ramsey

Recent Listening: Tom Harrell
CD: Tom Harrell, Prana Dance (High Note)

Harrell Prana.jpg
The economy, lyricism and ingenuity in Tom Harrell's writing and his trumpet and flugelhorn playing make him one of the most admired musicians in jazz. Not only his contemporaries, but also musicians of younger and older generations are in awe of Harrell's musicianship. When he was a member of Phil Woods' quintet In the 1980s, Woods made the frequently-quoted statement that he had never played with a better musician. With two decades of leadership and growth since then, Harrell has gone on to occupy a position of esteem comparable to that of Woods himself and of Wayne Shorter, two of the few living jazz artists with similar all-'round capability and depth of creativity.

Harrell writes and he plays. As you know if you've seen him at work, there is no show business component to his performance except in the irony that his catatonic state onstage when he's not playing constitutes a kind of riveting non-showmanship. In a marvel of courage, dedication and modern medicine, a man who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia overcomes his condition to create music at the level of genius.

Harrell's Prana Dance, recorded last May, is with the same quartet that made Light On two years earlier. Again, the compositions are all Harrell's. This is one instance in which you won't find me complaining that there are no standard songs. Like Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver, Harrell delivers an album full of original works that have substance and will endure. To single out three, "Prana," "Maharaja" and "Ride" have the structural simplicity and harmonic magnetism to stay in the mind after only a hearing or two. Those are characteristics of many of Harrell's compositions.

What he and the increasingly impressive tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery do with these attractive and deceptively simple songs is crucially important to the success of the album. As Neil Tesser points out in his evocative liner notes, you can hear, or feel, Harrell and Escoffery thinking their way through solos. And yet, spontaneity and a sense of discovery dominate the improvisation. The young rhythm section of pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake is splendid. Often when a pianist switches from the Steinway to play electric piano, I clench my teeth. Although I'd rather hear him play the acoustic instrument, Grissett adapts the Fender Rhodes to some of these tunes in a way that makes it the right choice for the material.

Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Art Farmer, Clifford Brown, Blue Mitchell and Chet Baker figured in Harrell's education as he developed his conception. If out of fond tribute he occasionally alludes to them in his solos, it is with subtlety, originality and - often - humor. Harrell has long since evolved into an original. In tone, style, choice of notes and the ability to reach his listeners' emotions, he is a worthy successor to his heroes. Prana Dance is an immensely satisfying album.

11 April, 2009PRANA DANCE 4.5 star review by DOWNBEAT in May 2009 issue

"...Music that operates at this level of structural, emotional and psychic level is rare. I don't know if Harrell does sitting meditation, but whatever he's doing, he should definitely keep on doing it"

- Paul de Barros

10 April, 2009PRANA DANCE featured review in allaboutjazz.com

Prana Dance
Tom Harrell | HighNote Records (2009)

By John Kelman
John Kelman
Managing Editor
Joined AAJ in 2003

With the realization that there will always be more music coming at him than he can keep up with, AAJ Managing Editor John Kelman wonders why anyone would think that jazz is dead or dying.

Despite fighting health issues that would keep most people down and out, Tom Harrell has managed to create a remarkably consistent discography as a leader, in addition to a sizable collection of sessions since first emerging in the early '70s. Still, the trumpeter seems especially invigorated since signing with HighNote for Light On (2007). A true leader of the modern mainstream who works squarely in the tradition while gently pushing the envelope, Harrell's outstanding writing, a tone that could melt butter, and an innate lyricism that, in its own less melancholy fashion, matches that of Kenny Wheeler, makes Prana Dance one of his best albums to date.

Despite the pull of mainstream artists to continue mining standards, Prana Dance remains an all-original set. The writing is so memorable that many of Harrell's songs could easily become contemporary standards, with singable melodies, challenging rhythmic concepts, and harmonic ideas providing plenty of grist for his quintet while remaining eminently accessible. When Harrell enters for the first solo of the set on the initially knotty "Marching," it opens up with near-cathartic expansiveness, drummer Johnathan Blake pushing the pulse forward with a combination of astute reaction and light but relentless groove. The drummer gets the second solo, a brief but near-compositional feature that justifies his becoming increasingly in demand, with eight discs released in 2008 alone, including vibraphonist Joe Locke's effervescent Force of Four (Origin Records).

"Prana" shifts feels, beginning with an implacable 9/4 pattern reminiscent of Wayne Shorter's enduring "Footprints." But it's only the first half of a head that, again, brings some release from the tension created by the opening passage with a simple melody made all the more compelling by Harrell and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery's in-tandem melody. With bassist Ugonna Okegwo and Blake providing an unshakable rhythm section, Harrell takes a solo of more overt virtuosity than that of "Marching," but never loses sight of the song's essence. Escoffery, whose own career has been taking off on albums including the impressive Veneration: Live at Smoke (Savant, 2007), is the perfect foil for Harrell—equally focused but capable of being concurrently visceral and fluid. Danny Grissett, the relative newcomer here, delivers an unforgettable Fender Rhodes solo that combines ethereal abstraction with more grounded thematic concepts.

Lyricism needn't preclude power, however, with the potent "Sequenza" leading off with another challenging head but opening up to some of the hottest, most swinging group interplay of the disc. Harrell, on flugelhorn, is brimming with ideas, while Grissett's acoustic piano solo demonstrates a potential that he's only beginning to realize on his own discs, including the aptly titled Promise (Criss Cross, 2006).

Laying waste to misguided suggestions that mainstream jazz has reached a dead end, the energy and interaction of Harrell's quintet makes Prana Dance bristle with energy and teem with conviction, all the while revering and refreshing the tradition with an unmistakably modernist spin.

Track listing: Marching; Prana; Sequenza; Maharaja; The Call; Ride; The Sea Serpent; In the Infinite.

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

Published: April 04, 2009