Trumpeter Tom Harrell wrote nine new songs for his latest album Time of the Sun, which High Note Records is releasing Tuesday. Harrell has worked with the same band--drummer Johnathan Blake, piano player Danny Grissett, saxophone player Wayne Escoffery and bass player Ugonna Okegwo---for five years. Harrell’s band has a strong rapport.
Harrell is a self-less leader. Harrell writes songs that accentuates his band strength. Foremost, Harrell's band is boogie conscious (danceable jazz music). Some of Harrell’s songs on Time of the Sun--Ridin’, River Samba and Cactus--are boogie friendly.
Seem as if Harrell’s band went into the studio to make an album that feels like a block party. Ridin’ shows the band in full party mode. Playing the Fender Rhodes, Grissett gives Ridin’ a retro-funk feel, and Blake opens a can of whip-ass on his drum solo.
Harrell jumps too, but Harrell sounds best on the bump-n-grind ballads he wrote, employing his trademark soft and poetic tone that makes it seem as if the trumpet can dissolve in his hands at any moment. Escoffery can play poetically, too, making Harrell and Escoffery the model frontline on ballads.
Don’t think for a minute Harrell’s band can only play ballads and boogie tempo songs. The band can also play conservatively, which happens on Harrell’s straight-ahead jazz song Open Door.