Charles McPherson/Tom Harrell Quintet Bebop Is The Future

 by Ronaldo Oregano   
Sunday, 05 February 2012

Two of the finest jazz musicians of our time, both eminently qualified to present a program of music from Bebop is the Future, alto-saxophonist extraordinaire Charles McPherson and the simply sublime trumpeter Tom Harrell will appear at Dizzy's in Manhattan on Tuesday, February 5th through Sunday, February 12th. Praised by Newsweek for his pure melodic genius, Tom Harrell is widely recognized as one of the most creative and uncompromising jazz instrumentalists and composers of our time.  Always inventive, Charles McPherson has kept the torch of Charlie Parker burning brightly without being stuck in the past. Stanley Crouch says in his New York Times article on Charles. "He is a singular voice who has never sacrificed the fluidity of his melody making, and is held in high esteem by musicians both long seasoned and young." The rhythm section features Jeb Patton on piano, Ray Drummond on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. This engagement is not to be missed. 

"The real fact of the matter is that everybody has been influenced by Charlie Parker. Charlie Parker is like Bach. So it would be like saying people that have heard Bach are influenced by Bach. Well, of course you are because certain people have added so much to the language that it becomes part of the language. ..Yes, you are influenced, even if you don’t know it. Twenty-five generations removed, you are because his language is in the language".-  Charles McPherson form a Jazz Police interview by Maxwell Chandler

Charles McPherson &opy; Andrea Canter
Charles McPherson was born in Joplin, Missouri and moved to Detroit at age nine. After growing up in Detroit, he studied with the renowned pianist Barry Harris and started playing jazz professionally at age 19. He moved from Detroit to New York in 1959 and performed with Charles Mingus from 1960 to 1972. While performing with Mingus, he collaborated frequently with Harris, Lonnie Hillyer (trumpet), and George Coleman (tenor sax).

McPherson has performed at concerts and festivals with his own orchestra. McPherson was recently featured at Lincoln Center showcasing his original compositions and arrangements with a seven piece ensemble. He has toured the US, Europe, Japan, Africa and South America with his own group, as well as with jazz greats Billy Eckstine, Lionel Hampton, Nat Adderly, Jay McShann and others.

McPherson has recorded as guest artist with Charlie Mingus, Barry Harris, Art Farmer, Kenny Drew, Toshiko Akiyoshi, the Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra, and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis. He has recorded as leader on Prestige, Fantasy, Mainstream, Discovery, Xanadu, and most recently Arabesque. His most recent recording is the highly acclaimed "Manhattan Nocturne".  Charles was also the featured alto saxophonist in the Clint Eastwood film "Bird," a biography about Charlie Parker.

McPherson remains a strong, viable force on the jazz scene today. He is at the height of his powers. His playing combines passionate feeling with intricate patterns of improvisation. Throughout his four decades of being an integral performer of the music, Charles has not merely remained true to his BOP origins, but has expanded on them. 

Available internationally for Concerts, Festivals, and Club Dates as a soloist or with The Charles McPherson Group. Charles also offers Clinics and Master Classes.


Tom Harrell, photo by Angela Harrell
Following the success of his first four albums with the current members of his quintet - a remarkably cohesive unit that includes tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, pianist Danny Grissett, drummer Johnathan Blake, and his bassist of 13 years, Ugonna Okegwo, Harrell is set to release his 2012 offering NUMBER FIVE, this spring. The quintet's previous albums, THE TIME OF THE SUN (2011), ROMAN NIGHTS (2010), PRANA DANCE (2009) and LIGHT ON (2007), received wide critical acclaim and won SESAC awards four years in a row for topping the radio charts in the U.S. In contrast to his signature recordings during the RCA/BMG years (1996 - 2003) where much of his focus was on projects involving large ensembles, the latest albums on Highnote demonstrate Harrell's skills as a leader of a smaller unit that calls to mind the energy and rapport of Art Blakey’s and Horace Silver’s bands. The sheer joy of playing Harrell's music with one another is evident from each member of the quintet. The writing on these recordings is no less of an achievement than his work for the orchestra or the big band. The trumpeter-composer deftly weaves complex harmonies together with daring rhythmic concepts and unforgettable melodies while utilizing the available colors to full effect. Harrell's music is at once intelligent, soulful, fresh and accessible.

Harrell divides his time between writing projects, live performances, and recordings, and actively tours with his quintet around the world. Recent television broadcasts of concerts include: San Javier Jazz Festival in Spain; Viersen Jazz Festival in Germany; Red Sea Jazz Festival in Israel; Jazz a Liege in Belgium; and Chivas Jazz Festival in Brazil.

Harrell was featured as the Artist in Residence at the Barga Jazz Festival (August 2009) and Vicenza Jazz Festival (May 2009). At the latter festival he performed duo, quintet and big band concerts over several days. Harrell also performed music from his WISE CHILDREN and PARADISE albums with the Duisburg Philharmonic Orchestra at Traumzeit Festival (July 2009) and with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra at the Seasons Music Festival (October 2010). In the spring of that year, Harrell reunited with the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw as guest soloist and arranger for a tour in the Netherlands, after their successful collaboration at the Concertgebouw in July of 2009. In 2011, Harrell premiered his Tom Harrell Chamber Ensemble at the Highline Ballroom in New York as part of the Blue Note Jazz Festival, where he presented his own arrangements of the works of Debussy and Ravel. Harrell also toured extensively in July and August with his quintet, in support of the release of THE TIME OF THE SUN. A graduate of Stanford University with a degree in music composition, Harrell is a prolific composer and arranger. Carlos Santana, Cold Blood, Azteca, Vince Guaraldi, Hank Jones, Kenny Barron, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Danish Radio Big Band, WDR Big Band, Brussels Jazz Orchestra, Metropole Orchestra and Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro- Latin Jazz Orchestra are among the many who have recorded or performed his work. Harrell's composition and arrangement, "Humility," was recorded for the latter's 2008 release, which just won a Grammy for the Best Latin Jazz Album.

Some of Harrell's notable RCA/BMG recordings include WISE CHILDREN, a project in which he combines woodwinds, brass, horns, strings, guitars, percussion and the vocals of Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, Jane Monheit and Claudia Acuna with his quintet; PARADISE and THE ART OF RHYTHM, both of which feature chamber groups with strings; and his big band project, TIME'S MIRROR.

In addition to the 26 albums and thousands of concerts worldwide as a leader, Harrell has worked with important figures in jazz history including Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Dizzie Gillespie, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Phil Woods, Lee Konitz, Sam Jones (with whom he briefly co-led a big band in the 70s), Jim Hall, Charlie Haden and with contemporaries such as Joe Lovano and Charles McPherson. In 2006, Harrell was awarded a Chamber Music America grant with which he composed and performed new pieces for trumpet and piano. He also wrote symphony orchestra arrangements for the French Orchestre National de Lorraine and the vocalist Elisabeth Kontomanou for a live recording album released in 2009, SIREN SONG.


Dizzy’s at Jazz at Lincoln Center (Columbus Circle in the Time Warner complex). Visit for reservations.