After a full career which has spanned decades without a lull, Tom Harrell is as busy as ever. His current band has released five excellent CDs since 2007 alone. He’s so prolific that he’s been writing and arranging music for other ensembles such as Carlos Santana, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and others all the while. On his brand new disc, “Colors of a Dream,” he introduces a new, two-bass project which supplements most of his working quintet with two new additions—saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and bassist/singer Esperanza Spalding. Esperanza can be heard lending her voice to a number of Tom’s impressive compositions, mostly using it in the role of another instrument. The recording is perhaps Harrell’s most imaginative to date.
“Life’s a Movie” is the third project by pianist Bill Mays’ highly imaginative Inventions Trio. Featuring the versatile and impeccable Marvin Stamm on trumpet and the excellent young classically-trained and vividly swinging cellist Alisa Horn, the Inventions Trio embodies the essence of synergy and masterful interplay that is so important to successful ‘chamber’ jazz. The disc is centered around an imaginary film soundtrack that beautifully displays Mays’ compositional and conceptual skills. There is also a heartfelt tribute to the immortal Bill Evans with a medley of four Evans originals, and a three-piece medley from the utterly unique Thelonious Monk.
Also this week, a distinctive voice emanating from Western Canada, the Hutchinson Andrew Trio, releases its third CD, “Prairie Modern”; singer Ed Reed’s fourth album, “I’m a Shy Guy,” is a tribute to the music of the Nat King Cole trio; and the band Kneebody, who wowed the crowd at the 2011 Iowa City Jazz Festival, unveils its fourth studio release, “The Line.”