Monday, April 05, 2010

Tom Harrell - Roman Nights (HighNote, 2010)

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. Roman Nights -

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