Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Tom Harrell Colors Of A Dream HighNote 2013

Colors Of A Dream firmly establishes Tom Harrell has the finest trumpet player in modern jazz since Chet Baker.
Brent Black /

Today the mailman brought me tidings of great joy which shall be to all people, well at least it will be on Oct. 22nd which is the street date for Tom Harrell's latest project. Colors Of A Dream is a piano less ensemble with two bassists and the addition of Jaleel Shaw on alto saxophone. Did I mention the other bassist was Esperanza Spalding?

This new ensemble setting finds Harrell at the very top of his game and perhaps his creative apex. The apt title blends well with the incredibly rich and vibrant sound from the group as Harrell paints an introspective self portrait of harmonic bliss. While most artists approaching seventy would be content to stay the course, Harrell embraces his own spontaneity and ability to deconstruct and reassemble a melody right before your very ears. For over forty years Tom Harrell has quietly gone about the business of making music and transcending the boundaries of what was the norm for improvisational music. Compositional excellence and virtuoso performances aside, Colors Of A Dream boasts the vocals of Ms. Spalding on some of Harrell's original tunes with perhaps the best work being the Portuguese version of "Velejar." The harmonic movement featured on "Blues 2013" shows the harmonious union of the three horn players with alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw kicking the party off. Tom Harrell has always been about the band. While a great many leaders simply hire the best available talent for a session with the end result being more of a solo recording and a handful of afterthoughts, Harrell takes great pride and great care in assembling a group whose artistic cohesion coincides with his incredible vision of sound. Tom Harrell allows you to dream with your eyes wide open.

With two bassists we have an open, raw and utterly organic harmonic base enhanced with a unique rhythmic structure of floating poly rhythms or to be blunt, it swings. While the release is somewhat conceptual drawing from the inspiration of Salvador Dali, Harrell colors this dream with the percussive pop of eighth note music adding his own muse to a project that bodes incredibly well for this most dynamic new ensemble. I feel uniquely unqualified to review a Tom Harrell release. You never review genius, you honor it.
Tracks: Tango; Velejar; Phantasy In Latin; State; Seventy; Blues 2013; Nite Life; Even If; Walkaway; Family; Goin' Out.

Personnel: Tom Harrell: Trumpet, Flugelhorn; Jaleel Shaw: Alto Saxophone (except Family); Wayne Escoffery: Tenor Saxophone (except Family); Esperanza Spalding: Bass (except Velejar), Voice (except Blues 2013, Walkaway, Family); Ugonna Okegwo: Bass; Johnathan Blake: Drums (except Family).