the magical artistry of Tom Harrell

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…

Hamburg video

Quintet – 2007

Quintet 2008 – Rhythm A Ning

w/Joe Lovano – Sail Away

w/Phil Woods