Tom Harrell's brainy, beautiful trumpet work has long captivated his jazz colleagues--especially his fellow hornmen. His solos are at once unhurried and dogged in their pursuit of hidden treasure, which he finds buried even in standard chord progressions. But unlike more naturalistic virtuosos like Jon Faddis and Wynton Marsalis, Harrell never makes it sound easy: beneath the lyric flow of his improvisations there's a hard-won integrity, which, like hammer marks on a sculpture, keeps the audience as aware of the process as the product. It marks him as an artistic descendant of Woody Shaw, who, like Harrell, got his first major break as a member of Horace Silver's quintet. Harrell's last two albums, both on Bluebird, more or less summarize the larger span of his work: last year's Wise Children, a collection of his inventive writing for large ensemble, brings to mind his early experience as a member of big bands led by Stan Kenton and Woody Herman, while the terrific Live at the Village Vanguard, recorded in late 2001, captures him sharing the spotlight in the combo format that's been his specialty for the last two decades (including six years as a member of Phil Woods's quintet). The Vanguard date features two excellent young players who will join Harrell here: drummer Quincy Davis and tenor man Jimmy Greene, whose blistering, exploratory solos contrast with Harrell's more measured approach. Dwayne Burno (bass) and newcomer Danny Grissett (a 2001 piano grad of USC's Thelonious Monk Institute) complete the package. Friday and Saturday, March 12 and 13, 9 and 11 PM, and Sunday, March 14, 4, 8, and 10 PM, Jazz Showcase, 59 W. Grand; 312-670-2473.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.