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Tom Harrell (born June 16, 1946) is a renowned American post-bop jazz trumpeter and composer.



Hailed by Newsweek for his pure melodic genius, Harrell is widely recognized as one of the most creative and uncompromising jazz instrumentalists and composers of our time. He is a frequent winner in Down Beat and Jazz Times magazines' Critics and Readers Polls and a Grammy nominee. Each of his 23 albums has found its way onto various critics "Top Ten" lists worldwide.

PRANA DANCE is the second album and the latest Harrell offering that features the current members of his quintet. The remarkably cohesive unit includes tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, drummer Johnathan Blake, and his bassist of 12 years, Ugonna Okegwo. The quintet's previous release, LIGHT ON, was released in 2007, to wide critical acclaim. The third release with the same lineup, ROMAN NIGHTS, will be released on March 22, 2010.

In contrast to his signature recordings during the RCA/BMG years (1996 - 2003) where much of his focus was on projects involving large ensembles, the latest albums on Highnote demonstrate Harrell's skills as a leader of a tight, smaller unit that calls to mind the bands of Art Blakey and Horace Silver. The sheer joy of playing Harrell's music with one another is evident from each member of the quintet. The writing on these recordings is no less of an achievement than his work for the orchestra or the big band. The trumpeter-composer deftly weaves complex harmonies together with infectious grooves and unforgettable melodies while utilizing the available colors to full effect. Harrell's music is at once intelligent, soulful, fresh and accessible.

While he divides his time between writing projects, live performance, and recordings, Harrell actively tours with his quintet around the world. Recent television broadcasts of concerts include: San Javier Jazz Festival in Spain; Viersen Jazz Festival in Germany; Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel; Jazz a Liege in Belgium; and Chivas Jazz Festival in Brazil. Harrell will be featured as the Artist in Residence at the Barga Jazz Festival (August 2009) and Vicenza Jazz Festival (May 2009). At the latter festival he will perform duo, quintet and big band concerts over several days.

A graduate of Stanford University with a degree in music composition, Harrell is a prolific composer and arranger. Carlos Santana, Cold Blood, Azteca, Vince Guaraldi, Hank Jones, Kenny Barron, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Danish Radio Big Band, WDR Big Band, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra and Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra are among the many who have recorded or performed his work. Harrell's composition and arrangement, "Humility," was recorded on the latter's 2008 release, which just won a Grammy for the Best Latin Jazz Album.

Some of Harrell's notable RCA/BMG recordings include WISE CHILDREN, a project in which he combines woodwinds, brass, horns, strings, guitars, percussion and the vocals of Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit and Claudia Acuna with his quintet; PARADISE and THE ART OF RHYTHM, both of which feature chamber groups with strings; and his big band project, TIME'S MIRROR.

In addition to the 24 albums and hundreds of concerts worldwide as a leader, Harrell has worked with important figures in jazz history including Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Dizzie Gillespie, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Sam Jones (with whom he briefly co-led a big band in the 70s), Jim Hall, Charlie Haden and with contemporaries such as Joe Lovano and Charles McPherson.

In 2006, Harrell was awarded a Chamber Music America grant with which he composed and performed new pieces for trumpet and piano. He also wrote symphony orchestra arrangements for the French Orchestre National de Lorraine and the vocalist Elisabeth Kontomanou for a live recording album which has been recently released, SIREN SONG.


Harrell suffers from paranoid schizophrenia[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]. Despite this condition's usually paralyzing effects[8], Mr. Harrell has become an influential figure in as a jazz trumpeter and composer, and has made many recordings.[9] Through music and medication, Mr. Harrell is able to cope with his illness[10].


  1. ^ The New York Oberserver:
  2. ^ Tom Harrell - AOL Music
  3. ^ all about jazz - Tom Harrell
  4. ^ Los Angeles Times - Tom Harrell Goes the Big-Band Rout
  5. ^ Encyclopedia Britannica Online Edition - Tom Harrell
  6. ^ Jazz, Schizophrenia And Side Effects
  7. ^ Concord Music Group - Tom Harrell
  8. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
  9. ^ CD Universe - Tom Harrell Discography,+Tom/a/Tom+Harrell.htm
  10. ^ "Harrell, Tom." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2009. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 09 Feb. 2009

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