Monday, July 9, 2012

Harrell's Number 5; Galban's Swan Song - Bob Stewart

Tom Harrell is one of the world's most respected jazz trumpeters and composers. His original works achieve that rare balance between intricacy and musicality, being at once intellectually engaging and emotionally satisfying. His playing is marked with a shrewd lyricism and sensitive tone that argues against technique for technique's sake, high note grandstanding or oblique reference. In realizing this musical vision, Harrell has surrounded himself with like-minded players and it is this, his 'working band,' that has appeared unchanged on all five of his recording for High Note Records, the newest entitled "Number Five." The result is a comfort level that approaches musical symbiosis, and a recording which is much more than another entry in an already impressive discography.

It's been a year since the passing of Manuel Galban, the maestro who left the famed Los Zafiros and then astounded the world with Buena Vista Social Club. "We began with a selection of about one thousand tunes," said the Cuban guitar legend. Indeed, "Blue Cha Cha" -- recorded in 2010 and the first solo work to be released by Galban in many years -- had been hatched conscientiously. He was a musician who liked to allow projects to mature for as long as necessary to ensure optimal results. It's a recording with an almost orchestral feel, bursting with the energy that only he could glean from the guitar, featuring a variety of styles.

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