Tom Harrell: Tune-A-Tune
Tom Harrell (trumpet)
Upswing (Chesky JD103)
Composed by Tom Harrell.
Recorded: Queens, NY, June 11-12, 1993
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
It's hard to imagine a better frontline than this—Harrell, Joe Lovano, and the trumpeter's former employer during the '80's, Phil Woods. Add the then up-and-coming Danilo Perez and the adroit rhythm team of Peter Washington and Bill Goodwin, and have this sextet be inspired by their leader's new and striking compositions, and the end result is a keeper CD of the highest order.
"Tune-A-Tune" is the most complex and challenging piece on Upswing, and appears last in the batting order. The staccato theme has a dark undercurrent, and the three horns harmonize it with a resolute cry. Harrell's lyrical, warm-toned solo is in surprising contrast to the theme's delivery, and is supported by Perez's varied textures, which range from montuno to modal note clusters. Lovano's thrusting improv nimbly explores many of the melodic and harmonic pathways offered by Harrell's composition, his runs laced with enhancing shrieks and overtones. Woods follows with a sweeping statement as well, played with a piercing sound and a passionate drive that recall his performances many years earlier with his dynamic European Rhythm Machine. Perez's solo brings the temperature down a notch, with twirling motifs and ethereal passages that coalesce cogently. The horns' beseeching reprise presents a pleasing, if slightly jolting, deviation from the pianist's more understated attack. Final mention must be made of Goodwin's aggressive, yet also highly anticipatory and responsive drumming throughout this compelling track.
Reviewer: Scott Albin