Monday, March 30, 2009

Tom Harrell's new release ... um, rocks?

OK, it's a poor choice of words ...there's no rocking -- just very solid jazz and some great arrangements.
I've been a fan of Harrell's for some time, enjoyed "Forms" but think his new release "Prana Dance" is top-notch. Working with Wayne Escoffery on soprano and tenor saxes; Danny Grissett on keys; Ugonna Okegwo on bass and drummer Johnathan Blake, Herrell's arrangements are fuller than you might expect from a five-piece group.
But he's always been able to convey more than most in his music. I really enjoy the way his and Escoffery's solos weave around the rhythm section. There's a logic to them that's beautiful. The tunes also have a touch of fusion in them, but never stray too far from Harrell's swinging hard bop roots.
The Los Angeles Times aid "What Harrell [does] is spin out improvisational lines filled with instant melodies. Like a lyricist who illuminates phrases with subtle internal rhymes, Harrell's soloing captivates both the hearts and the minds of his listeners."
Helping here is an unusually lush recording -- done at "Bennett Studios, Englewood, NJ" on May 29 and June 10 last year, according to .... "Bennett Studios" ... "Englewood, NJ" ... remind you of anyone?
Harrell's group will be at the Village Vanguard April 7-12.

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