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Tom Harrell: Colors of a Dream

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Anyone approaching Tom Harrell’s new disc as they would the trumpet virtuoso’s 37 years of straight-ahead recordings will be blindsided. Colors of a Dream is a scintillating, highly enjoyable project but nonetheless a remarkable departure for Harrell.

It has no piano, but isn’t chordless. The three-horn lineup-Harrell, alto saxophonist Jaleel Shaw and tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery-often plays in block-chord formation (“Seventy,” “Nite Life”), and the twin basses of Ugonna Okegwo and Esperanza Spalding thicken the harmonies as well. The opening songs are a tango; a tune with Spalding singing in Brazilian Portuguese (her only non-scat vocals on the disc); and the Afro-Caribbean “Phantasy in Latin.” But it isn’t really Latin jazz: Except for drummer Johnathan Blake’s groove on “Phantasy,” the Spanish tinge is played down, emphasized only on “Family”-which doesn’t aim for Latin.

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