Label/Year: HighNote Records, 2017
Lineup – Tom Harrell: trumpet, flugelhorn; Danny Grissett: piano; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Adam Cruz: drums.
American trumpet/flugelhorn player and composer, Tom Harrell, keeps up a very active career with high levels of quality on each work released.
The successor of the commendable Something Gold, Something Blue (HighNote Records, 2016) is Moving Picture, which features a quartet comprising regular bandmates Danny Grissett on piano, Ugonna Okegwo on bass, and Adam Cruz on drums.
Despite the conspicuous inclination to embrace Latin/Brazilian rhythms throughout this record, the quartet opens with blazing post-bop inspiration. The title track, following an exciting 6/8 meter, has this quasi-imperial grandeur that imports Eastern folk idioms into the head’s melody, while bass/piano pedals, affixed to a nearly marching drum routine, sustain the whole thing together. This happens before a lustrous danceable groove walks in and brings the best in Harrell, an incredibly articulated declaimer in his melody-driven constructions. Furthermore, one can dig the brilliant moves of Grissett, constantly soulful and motivically versed, and Cruz, whose unhurried statement evolves into a luscious crescendo.
“Apple House” has distinguished features when compared to the other pieces. During its first minutes, it sounds like an electronic-influenced piece delineated by an almost puerile melodic line. However, instead of any crazy beat, the song progresses with Cruz’s subtle brushed drumming gradually procuring a docile bossa nova feeling.
“Montego Bay” wrings multiple rhythmic accentuations while elegantly integrates post-bop dialects and a sultry Caribbean pulse.
Latin America flavors also permeate “Time Passage”, whose initial impulse is given by geometric tom-tom figures and hi-hat triplets on the drum kit. Harrell unleashes transparent yet vibrant ideas throughout, having brisk harmonic movements developing underneath.
Both “Different Clouds” and “Gee A Bee” are easy-listening exercises. The former carries a breezy vibe and singable melody, while the latter opens the door to an elated jazz funk hinged to a perennial harmonic cycle.
As a jazzified Brazilian pop song, “Happy Ring” invites to chill out and would have given Michael Franks another vocal hit. Also with a Brazilian soul, “Sea” triggers lush harmonies delivered at 4/4 tempo, regardless the ternary folk dance as the starting point.
Flaunting a solo piano introduction that could fit in Jobim’s lyrical repertoire, “Vibrer” is a riveting trumpet/piano duet influenced by Olivier Messiaen and the music of New Orleans. It includes nice melodic lines over waltzing cadences and harmonic gestures typical of the rock genre.
Encircled by affable warmness, bold color combinations, and a soaring optimism, this is another recommended title from a trumpeter that got me recurrently hooked on his musical creations.
01 - Moving Picture ► 05 - Different Clouds ► 08 - Vibrer