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Jazz - Released December 31, 1995 | RCA Victor

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Best known as a superior and advanced cool-toned trumpeter, Tom Harrell shows throughout this consistently brilliant set that he has also developed into an excellent composer and a particularly talented arranger. All ten songs and arrangements are his, and the music both swings and is quite original. Harrell doubles on flügelhorn and utilizes a wide variety of interesting musicians, including clarinetist Greg Tardy (who plays beautifully on the opening "Petals Danse"), acoustic guitarist Romero Lumbambo (heard on the more Brazilian-oriented numbers), the great free bop tenor Dewey Redman, pianist Danilo Perez, electric guitarist Mike Stern, tenorman David Sanchez, and several strings (including Regina Carter) among others. Each selection stands out, and although none of the original melodies are probably destined to become standards, the episodic arrangements are quite colorful. As for the leader, he gets in strong solos of his own, although Harrell tends to keep them concise and purposeful. Overall, this is Tom Harrell's most significant release as a leader to date and arguably one of the finest jazz records released in 1998. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released March 8, 2019 | HighNote Records

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Tom Harrell is a master at making his trumpet sound pure, clear and graceful in a manner like no one else. When he plays, he projects an intense feeling of well-being and engages in inspired and lively improvisations. On his latest record, Harrell has invited Mark Turner on the saxophone (another incredible sound), Charles Altura on electric and acoustic guitar, Ben Street on bass, and Johnathan Blake on drums. Along with this wonderful band, the trumpet player reminds us that he is not only one of the most touching soloists of his generation, but also a famous composer and a precise band leader, collaborative and always listening to his companions. At 72 years old, Harrell teaches us a lesson in jazz perfection. The harmonic and melodic whole he creates on the record should not come as a surprise for anyone aware of Harrell’s background. Band member with Woody Herman, Horace Silver and Phil Woods, sidemen with George Russell, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan and Charlie Haden, Tom Harrell has recorded more than thirty albums since the end of the 1970’s. © Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Jazz - Released November 2, 1990 | Contemporary Records

This was trumpeter Tom Harrell's first recording since ending his long period with Phil Woods' quintet. He performs five originals plus the standard "For Heaven's Sake." Most intriguing are "January Spring" (a lengthy workout that is freely improvised except for the theme) and the cooking "Rhythm Form" which, although loosely based on "I Got Rhythm," sounds as if it could have been written by Ornette Coleman. Throughout the date the contributions of Joe Lovano (on tenor and soprano), pianist Danilo Perez, the fine flutist Cheryl Pyle (on "January Spring") and the mighty Charlie Haden-Paul Motian rhythm team keep the trumpeter quite inspired. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Bebop - Released September 9, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 15, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released January 27, 2009 | HighNote Records

Sticking with the atmospheric vibe of 2007's Light On, trumpeter Tom Harrell delivers more progressive and laid-back post-bop on 2009's Prana Dance. Once again, Harrell is backed by his working group featuring keyboardist Danny Grissett, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake. This is a stellar ensemble with an organic, almost telepathic sense of group interplay, featuring highly inventive and adept improvisers well suited to Harrell's cerebral compositions. The deftly simple tunes belie Harrell's use of odd time signatures and knotty, creative harmonic passages. Such songs as the buoyant "Marching" and the angular mid-album track "The Call" make the most of keyboardist Grissett's searching and minimalist Fender Rhodes sound. Similarly, the driving modal piece "Sequenza" brings to mind work by both Wayne Shorter and Dave Liebman -- which isn't necessarily surprising as saxophonist Escoffery adds a lithe and angular voice to each song. While he's always been an impeccable improviser and technically adroit hornman, Harrell himself has never sounded better or more assured on the trumpet. There's a warmth and directness to Harrell's music here that seems to flow from the yogic notion of prana or the balance of breath. In that sense, Prana Dance is the perfect balance of breath, movement, and music. © Matt Collar /TiVo
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Bebop - Released September 18, 2012 | HighNote Records

Tom Harrell has had a lot of success with his series of quintet recordings for HighNote, but his fifth release for the label, which uses the same musicians as the first four CDs (tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake), takes a different path, featuring the full band on four of the eleven tracks, then in various configurations from solo to duo, trio, and quartet. He explodes out of the box with a fiery take of Dizzy Gillespie's "Blue 'N' Boogie" accompanied solely by Blake. Harrell previously recorded his mellow ballad "Journey to the Stars" as a duet with Grissett, but for this session, he overdubs several muted trumpets in spots. Grissett switches to electric piano for the leader's haunting ballad "The Question," a trio feature that also showcases Escoffery to good effect. The full quintet is heard in Harrell's lush miniature "Right as Rain," with the rich blend of his flügelhorn and Escoffery's tenor in the ensembles. Escoffery steals the show with his engaging solo in Harrell's tricky "No. 5," a potent post-bop workout. "GT" has a free jazz vibe, with potent solos all around. Harrell is all alone for the standard "Star Eyes" and Tadd Dameron's infrequently played "A Blue Time," taking his time to work his way into the theme of the former while only briefly touching on it before returning to improvising on its well-traveled changes, then bringing out the melancholy air of the latter with a loping, spacious interpretation. Tom Harrell continues to surprise with his thoughtful playing, composing, and arranging for this rewarding effort. © Ken Dryden /TiVo
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Bebop - Released January 26, 2010 | HighNote Records

Tom Harrell has been on a roll since returning to action following a four-year hiatus during the mid-'00s. The trumpeter/composer's third release for HighNote retains the same consistent level of quality that marked his previous two for the label, Light On and Prana Dance, both of which shared the personnel found on Roman Nights: tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake. Perhaps because they've now been at it that much longer, the quintet is even more in tune with one another on Harrell's new compositions than before. The camaraderie, in particular among the two horn men and Grissett, has been elevated to a level experienced by only a small handful of bands -- usually those boasting long tenures together -- and each musician's contribution is so essential to the whole that it becomes impossible to imagine how the recording might have fared had any one of them not been present. Harrell's compositions are often sophisticated and complex, but also highly melodic, allowing each player to wring the most from every solo without losing sight of the framework Harrell has created for them. Escoffery especially shines, on tracks like the fiery "Let the Children Play" and the Latin-informed "Obsession," and Grissett, who plays Fender Rhodes in addition to piano, contributes intelligently structured solos and harmonies throughout. Not to be overlooked, though, is the rhythm section: Okegwo is a monster of a bassist who keeps the others' flights locked down tight while allowing himself plenty of room to go where he wants to go, and Blake is solid as a rock, tuneful and sharp, equally comfortable within an uptempo burner boasting tricky time changes or a simple ballad that requires only that he keep things moving -- in either case, he brings a flair to the proceedings. Harrell, of course, approaches brilliance early and often, proving himself to be one of the most underrated trumpet players and composers of his generation, with plenty left to say. © Jeff Tamarkin /TiVo
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Bebop - Released September 15, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released June 25, 2013 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released May 31, 2011 | HighNote Records

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 /TiVo
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Bebop - Released August 12, 2014 | HighNote Records

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Vocal Music (Secular and Sacred) - Released January 8, 1990 | Mad-Kat Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2006 | Arabesque Recordings

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Jazz - Released May 7, 2002 | RCA Victor

This is Tom Harrell's first live record, and what a pleasure -- a stirring hour-plus in the company of the trumpeter's working quintet, with Jimmy Greene on tenor sax, Xavier Davis on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass, and Quincy Davis on drums. Harrell wrote a new batch of music, full of depth and ingenuity, for this November 2001 engagement at the Village Vanguard. The carefully chosen track list begins with "Asia Minor," an angular line and hard-swinging round of solos, followed by the brief and unorthodox "Manhattan, 3 A.M.," a dark, melodic idea that frames a thoughtful improvisation by Okegwo. "Where the Rain Begins," co-composed by Harrell's wife, manager, and co-producer, Angela, balances a bright 5/4 blowing section with a wistful 4/4 ballad interlude. Harrell continues to mess with rhythm and form on "Blues in Una Sea," embedding blues changes in an involved harmonic pattern with odd phrase lengths; he achieves a similarly unpredictable effect on the mellow, bossa-based "A Child's Dream." The high point arrives with "Design," a deft unison line that picks up in speed and complexity after a series of initial exchanges with Quincy Davis' drums. Solo commentary ensues, churning and intense. Harrell then changes the pace entirely, summoning the angels with a sublime duo reading of "Everything Happens to Me," backed only by Xavier Davis. The boogaloo-ish "Party Song" closes the set with a flavor that's subtly reminiscent of "Cantaloupe Island." Among the many gems in Harrell's discography, this one certainly stands out. © David R. Adler /TiVo
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Jazz - Released December 24, 1997 | Contemporary Records

Recorded in 1989 and re-released on Original Jazz Classics in 2003, Sail Away is a fine outing by trumpeter Tom Harrell. He's joined by pianist James Williams, bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Adam Nussbaum. A handful of guests -- flutist Cheryl Pyle, guitarist John Abercrombie, tenor Joe Lovano, and soprano Dave Liebman -- fill out the arrangements on ten instrumentals (two are bonus cuts from Visions). Together, Harrell and company add a contemporary spin to mainstream jazz. The ten-minute track "Dream in June" takes a number of adventurous flights of fancy without ever losing track of its base. Both Harrell and Abercrombie's solos build complex, forceful ideas against a backdrop of Nussbaum's powerful drumming, creating a dense sound that belies predictability. Harrell and Lovano's horns entwine on "Glass Mystery"'s intro, concocting a late-night mood for this lovely piece, while Pyle's flute adds the right touch to the meditative "Dancing Trees." Each track of Sail Away unfolds like an impressionistic canvas, bursting with color and light, with every brush stroke working toward the sum total of the painting. Modern jazz fans looking for music that's grounded -- but never imprisoned -- by yesteryear will want to pick up a copy. © Ronnie D. Lankford Jr. /TiVo
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Bebop - Released January 5, 2007 | HighNote Records

As correctly stated in the liner notes by Neil Tesser, Tom Harrell's music takes several listens to fully appreciate, for there is much to discover. For Light On, his first recording as a leader in four years, Harrell contributed all of the compositions. His pieces utilize original chord changes (none are mere run-throughs of rhythm changes), complex but often somewhat catchy melodies, dynamics and subtle surprises. Only the augmented blues "Bleu Caribe," a change of pace, would work at a jam session. Harrell's cool-toned trumpet and flugelhorn contrast well with Wayne Escoffery's muscular tenor; the rhythm section is heated and stimulating; and Danny Grissett is equally effective on both the acoustic piano and the Fender Rhodes. All of the musicians are in top form, which is fortunate since these pieces are not that simple to play. Several of the originals deserve to be adopted and interpreted by other musicians. Overall, Light On is a superior set of modern jazz. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released August 10, 2006 | LRC Ltd. - Groove Merchant Records

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Jazz - Released May 21, 1996 | RCA Victor

Tom Harrell has been gradually gaining recognition as one of the most consistently creative brassmen in jazz. Although his soft tone can sometimes be a little reminiscent of Chet Baker, Harrell's technique is on a higher level and he is a more advanced player. Harrell is heard in fine form throughout this CD which is split between appearances with his impressive quintet and with a nonet/tentet. The trumpeter, who contributed nine of the ten selections, is quite generous in allocating solo space and in keeping his improvisations relatively brief and to the point. The selections display variety within the hard bop/post bop idiom, ranging from rhythmic pieces such as "Marimba Song" and "Samba Mate" to the tongue twister "Cheetah" and several numbers which make the augmented group sound like a big band. Of the sidemen, tenor saxophonist Don Braden and pianist Kenny Werner have several good spots, Gary Smulyan's deep-toned baritone (the personnel listing mistakenly has him down as playing bass clarinet) is a highlight of "Blue in One" and Rob Botti's oboe is an important voice on "Majesty." Harrell, who plays both piano and overdubbed flugelhorn on a solo interpretation of "Darn That Dream," continues to grow as an original improviser. © Scott Yanow /TiVo
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Jazz - Released June 5, 2001 | RCA Bluebird

Ever since Charlie "Bird" Parker's influential Charlie Parker With Strings sessions of 1949-1950, jazz artists have been anxious to work with string players -- that is, if they have the budget. Typically, a jazz-with-strings session will emphasize standards, but there isn't a standard to be found on Tom Harrell's strings-minded Paradise. Devoted entirely to Harrell's own compositions, Paradise is far from a run-of-the-mill jazz-with-strings date. The lyrical trumpeter doesn't use strings to give himself more pop appeal, but rather, incorporates elements of chamber music. And he isn't actually backed by a full-fledged string orchestra, although Harrell does employ up to six string players on some of the material (along with a rhythm section). Most of the selections are best described as "post-bop with classical overtones"; this is true of the dramatic "Baroque Steps" as well as the dreamy "Nighttime" and the optimistic "Morning Prayer, Pt. 2." Listeners may notice that two of the CD's more optimistic pieces, "Morning Prayer, Pt. 2" and "Daybreak," have a start-of-the-new-day theme -- Harrell is obviously equating a new day with renewed hope and optimism. In addition to bringing classical overtones to his post-bop foundation, Harrell incorporates Latin elements at times -- mostly Brazilian, but some Afro-Cuban influence asserts itself as well. Although not quite essential, Paradise is a rewarding album that Harrell can easily be proud of. © Alex Henderson /TiVo