Tom Harrell

Sail Away [Original Jazz Classics]

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Recorded in 1989 and re-released on Original Jazz Classics in 2003, Sail Away is a fine outing by trumpeter Tom Harrell. He's joined by pianist James Williams, bassist Ray Drummond, and drummer Adam Nussbaum. A handful of guests -- flutist Cheryl Pyle, guitarist John Abercrombie, tenor Joe Lovano, and soprano Dave Liebman -- fill out the arrangements on ten instrumentals (two are bonus cuts from Visions). Together, Harrell and company add a contemporary spin to mainstream jazz. The ten-minute track "Dream in June" takes a number of adventurous flights of fancy without ever losing track of its base. Both Harrell and Abercrombie's solos build complex, forceful ideas against a backdrop of Nussbaum's powerful drumming, creating a dense sound that belies predictability. Harrell and Lovano's horns entwine on "Glass Mystery"'s intro, concocting a late-night mood for this lovely piece, while Pyle's flute adds the right touch to the meditative "Dancing Trees." Each track of Sail Away unfolds like an impressionistic canvas, bursting with color and light, with every brush stroke working toward the sum total of the painting. Modern jazz fans looking for music that's grounded -- but never imprisoned -- by yesteryear will want to pick up a copy.

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