Tom Harrell

The Time of the Sun

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Trumpeter Tom Harrell's expansive and funky 2011 effort, The Time of the Sun, is a creatively inspired, somewhat experimental work that finds the journeyman post-bopper delivering some of the best work of his career. Once again featuring the same ensemble he's used since 2007's Light On, the album includes tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist/Fender Rhodes player Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo, and drummer Johnathan Blake. This is a seasoned ensemble of talented, like-minded musicians who've been guided for several years by Harrell's ever-searching trumpet and compositional voice. Beginning with recordings of solar oscillations -- harmonies produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun -- the album is an engaging, cerebral, yet dancey affair that showcases Harrell's longstanding knack for sinewy improvisational lines and memorable, thoughtful harmonic compositions. While not fusion, the music here does bring to mind the '70s works of trumpeter Eddie Henderson, like Heritage and Sunburst. The title track and the propulsively funky "Ridin'" find Harrell laying down knotty, serpentine lines against Grissett's skronky Rhodes hits and Blake's roiling drum beats. Few jazz musicians in their mid- and late career continue the kind of all-original approach that Harrell has on his handful of Highnote albums, and The Time of the Sun is easily the best example of this.

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