Now tuneful, now intricate, always smartly constructed, the post-bop jazz of trumpeter, composer and arranger Tom Harrell sounds fresh even at its simplest. On any of his excellent recordings, it continues to reveal its layers even after repeated hearings.
One of the finest improvisers in jazz, Harrell eschews flash and well-practiced licks for honest, in-the-moment invention. Possessed of a round, burnished sound, he can fly with power and dazzling clarity, and his ballad playing can be breathtaking.
Raised in California, Harrell, 66, began playing at 8, was jamming around San Francisco by 13 and, after earning a Stanford degree in music composition, did his bandstand learning with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Woody Herman and the Horace Silver Quintet. In New York, he work with masters such as Bill Evans, Lee Konitz, George Russell and saxophonist Phil Woods.
Leading his own ensembles since 1989, he has recorded more than two dozen albums, most featuring his own compositions and arrangements.
Harrell and his excellent quintet — saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Johnathan Blake — make a rare South Florida Saturday that’s not to be missed.
The Tom Harrell Quintet plays at 8 p.m. Saturday at Nova Southeastern University’s Miniaci Performing Arts Center, 3100 Ray Ferrero Jr. Blvd , Davie. Tickets are 40, $15 students; 954-462-0222, southfloridajazz.org.