Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Rhythm and Innovation: The RCA Years, ii

Leader: The Art of Rhythm They are facing us and inviting us to study them, but their gaze is inward, self-reflective, almost impenetrable. I am struck by the similarity in the 52-year-old Rembrandt’s self-portrait (part of the Frick Collection in New York) and the photographic portrait of 51-year-old Harrell on the front of The Art …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Rhythm and Innovation: The RCA Years, i

At the end of 1995, Tom Harrell signed a contract with RCA Victor. Over the period 1996-2003 he recorded five studio albums for Victor plus a live appearance at the Village Vanguard. Intriguing studio titles like Labyrinth, The Art of Rhythm, and Time’s Mirror promised exciting new adventures on my Trip through Harrell-land in my …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Chemistry and Recognition vi (the polls, the songs)

<continuation of previous post and completion of ‘Chemistry and Recognition’> Hallelujah! The Polls In my Trip through Harrell-land so far, I have listened to and reported on much of Harrell’s recorded music from the earliest LPs in the late 60s to the LPs and CDs through the mid-90s. My most recent “Chemistry and Recognition” posts …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Chemistry and Recognition v (voice, ensemble)

<continuation of previous post> “It’s so mysterious.” “It reads like a composition in and of itself.” Ha + Vo Given the stylistic breadth and emotional depth of his trumpet playing, it comes as no surprise that Tom Harrell was in great demand by vocalists. I have only recently perused KG systematically for his albums with …

Tom Harrell, a Quest. Part 1, Chemistry and Recognition iv (bass, drums, vibes)

<continuation of previous post> Plucked, picked, beaten, struck Ha + B Bassist Bill Crow in his book Jazz Anecdotes passes this one along: Deep in the African jungle, a safari was camped for the night. In the darkness, distant drums began a relentless throbbing that continued until dawn. The safari members were disturbed, but the …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Chemistry and Recognition iii (guitar, piano)

<continuation of previous post> “poetically and with intensity” Ha as Musical Reactant, cont’d Chemistry I am using — and granted, beating to death — a chemistry metaphor as a convenient and I think appropriate way to report on Tom Harrell’s musical activities in his post-Phil-Woods period (~1990-1995). A musical mixture, like a chemical mixture, is …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Chemistry and Recognition ii (horns)

<continuation of previous post> “Writing on music is much like dancing on architecture.” Frank Zappa, as cited by Bruno Anastasi Ha as Musical Reactant I have not systematically done the math, but it seems to me Harrell’s activity as accompanist, guest, featured guest, and partner on the (predominantly studio) recordings of others peaked at an …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, Chemistry and Recognition i (Chesky)

We move past the Phil Woods years. My Trip through Harrell-land resumes in its Quest for a “pretty” song (or two or three) for my Horn of Pretty playlist I noted at the end of my last Trip report that Real Life, the last album Tom Harrell recorded, as a guest, with the (augmented) Phil …

Tom Harrell: A Quest. Part 1, The Phil Woods Years – Transition

Contemporary – Harrell as Leader As we reported earlier, Tom Harrell’s contract with Contemporary Records straddled his departure from the Woods Quintet. After Contemporary/GPR Productions’ Sun Dance with George Robert, Harrell made three important albums with Contemporary as leader, all produced by Bill Goodwin. Two of these preceded the final Phil Woods Quintet album (Flash, …

Charlie Haden and Carla Bley’s Liberation Music

Lately I have been writing a series of posts about jazz trumpeter Tom Harrell. In the metaphor of that series, I am taking a Trip through Harrell’s recordings (“Harrell-land”), and on this Trip I have occasionally taken some unplanned excursions. One particularly enjoyable one has been looking back at the recorded music of Charlie Haden’s …