"Tom Harrell's brassy music enters new chamber"

Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble

When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25

Where: Athenaeum Jazz at Scripps Institute Research Auditorium, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla

Tickets: $32-$37 (all ages)

Phone: (858) 454-5872


Claude Debussy and Dizzy Gillespie are musical equals for veteran trumpeter and flugelhornist Tom Harrell, who performs here tonight at the Scripps Research Institute Auditorium in La Jolla with his Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble. Ditto Maurice Ravel, George Gershwin and Miles Davis.

Harrell’s nine-piece ensemble teams his longtime quintet with a quartet that includes cello, violin, flute and guitar. This combination provides a broad textural palette that also allows improvisational flexibility. Both are vital to Harrell, who has written arrangements for symphony orchestras and performed with such pioneering Latin-rock bands as Santana and Malo.

He is best known for his exquisite jazz work as a band leader and alongside such luminaries as Gillespie, Woody Herman, Horace Silver and San Diego saxophonist Charles McPherson. But Harrell is a musician who knows few stylistic limitations, as evidenced by his past work with Boz Scaggs, Jesse Colin Young, Cold Blood and electric guitar greats Mike Bloomfield and Link Wray.

Whether performing jazz classics, his own music or adaptations of symphonic repertoire, Harrell plays with a winning combination of clarity, grace and fire. Anchored by the propulsive young drummer Jonathan Blake, his quintet also features sax dynamo Wayne Escoffery. To make matters even more intriguing, Harrell’s ensemble also features guest guitarist Râle Micic, a Belgrade native who adds a Balkan tinge.