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Vermont Jazz Center Presents: Tom Harrell Quartet

Press Release – Please give author’s credit to Eugene Uman, Vermont Jazz Center, 802 254 9088,

Tom Harrell Quartet to Perform at the Vermont Jazz Center on Saturday, October 14th at 8:00 PM
Press Release date: October 3rd, 2017

Short Summary
Who: Tom Harrell Quartet
With Tom Harrell, trumpet and flugelhorn; Danny Grissett, piano and Fender Rhodes; Ugonna Okegwa, bass; Joe Dyson, drums
What: Original jazz and choice standards performed by a world-class quartet
When: Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at 8:00 PM
Where: The Vermont Jazz Center, 72 Cotton Mill Hill, #222, Brattleboro, VT 05301
Tickets available: online at, by email at, by phone 802 254 9088, in person at In The Moment, Main St., Brattleboro, VT.

Trumpet Legend, Tom Harrell to perform with his quartet at the Vermont Jazz Center on October 14th

On Saturday, October 14th at 8:00 PM, the Vermont Jazz Center will welcome the legendary trumpeter, Tom Harrell to the stage. He will be touring with pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Joe Dyson in support of their new release, Moving Picture.

Although Harrell has recorded 30 discs as a leader, this current album is the first that features him as the sole horn in a quartet setting. Like Miles Davis before him, Harrell can most often be found in a quintet setting pairing him with a tenor saxophonist (usually Wayne Escoffery), but, for this project, he has intentionally chosen to record and tour without another frontline instrument. This gives him room to work on unexplored textures and stretch out on his solos. In the liner notes of their current release he elaborates: “I wrote the arrangements with the instrumentation of the quartet and the specific players in mind. There’s a lot of ensemble writing on Moving Picture – concerted writing with piano and trumpet as well as unison writing with bass and trumpet. I think this brings interest, as it is different from my writing for previous records. Then too, when I write a melody I think of it as something for the globe. I try to make it accessible for everyone and capable of being played or sung by any combination of instrument(s) or voice(s).”

Steve Futterman of the New Yorker writes in Moving Picture’s liner notes that Harrell’s “capacious horn, in tandem with a top-notch ensemble, is a veritable definition of musical joy.” Futterman’s quote supports Harrell’s goal of bringing joy to his audiences. In numerous interviews, such as one archived on NPR’s Sound Takes, Harrell explains “…it’s true, I try to portray happiness and hope. There might be an element of sadness, but music can help us transcend sadness.” He goes on to say that “Music is directly related to your health and it is a healing process. So, to play music you’re healing yourself… It’s good because it gives you a discipline, a ritual each day, and teaches you about life. You need discipline in order to live. Everything in our body is in our mind, so there’s a spiritual level too. I am happy that I have the discipline and a challenge each day because it keeps me centered.”

If Harrell appears to be a modern day Yoda, there’s good reason: he is a truth-teller, mindful in his use of spoken language and the musical notes he chooses. He is regarded as one of jazz’s top living trumpeters, an individual who has earned the deepest respect of his peers through his unpretentious mastery of the horn, self-discipline, prolific output, compositional prowess and prodigious talent. Harrell’s numerous tenures as a sideman with jazz legends affirms his master-status. He was a touring member of ensembles led by Stan Kenton, Woody Herman, Azteca, the Horace Silver Quintet (5 albums), The Sam Jones-Tom Harrell Big Band, the Lee Konitz Nonet, George Russell and the Mel Lewis Orchestra. He has recorded upwards of 300 albums including work with Lionel Hampton, Joe Lovano, Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra, David Sánchez, Sheila Jordan and has appeared as a featured soloist on pianist, Bill Evans’ final studio album.
Harrell’s achievements as a composer are on display in the many albums he has produced as a leader, but he has also been commissioned to compose and arrange for numerous other meaningful projects, individuals and ensembles. These efforts include work for Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts, Carlos Santana’s Caravanserai, the Metropole Orchestra, the Danish Radio Big Band, the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra and the Orchestre National de Lorraine. Harrell’s compositions have been recorded by jazz artists including Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, Art Farmer, Chris Potter, Tom Scott, Steve Kuhn, Kenny Werner and Hank Jones. His opus “Humility” was included in the Grammy-award winning album by Arturo O’Farrill’s Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Song for Chico.

Joining Harrell at the Vermont Jazz Center will be pianist Danny Grissett; they have been making music together now for over eight years. The All Music Guide to jazz states that Grissett “plays with an effortless brilliance that distinguishes him as one of the top three young pianists on the contemporary scene.” Grissett has been featured in the bands of Nicholas Payton, Steve Wilson, Buster Williams, Russell Malone, Wycliff Gordon, Benny Golson, and Jeremy Pelt. He has also been busy as a studio musician, recording with Jeremy Pelt, Jimmy Green, Vincent Herring, Lage Lund, Jim Rotundi, Steve Nelson, and Tom Harrell. He has released six albums as a leader.

The bassist in the quartet is Ugonna Okegwo. As a youth in New York, he cut his teeth working with Junior Cook, James Spaulding and Jon Hendricks. After graduating from Long Island University, he formed a highly regarded trio with Jacky Terrasson and Leon Parker. Okegwo has been with Tom Harrell for ten years. He is also the bassist in the Mingus Big Band and has appeared on albums with Jim Snidero, Jimmy Greene, Mike DiRubbo, Spike Wilner, Pete Malinverni, James Zollar, Luis Perdomo, D.D. Jackson, David Berkman, Bruce Barth, Sam Newsome, Leon Parker, René Marie, Lionel Hampton, Steve Davis, Jon Hendricks, Steve Wilson, Wayne Escoffery, Tom Harrell, and many others.

The group’s drummer, Joe Dyson, began his professional career performing in his father’s New Orleans church with other family members. He attended Berklee College of Music on a full scholarship and has studied with Donald Harrison, Alvin Batiste, Clyde Kerr, Herlin Riley, Chico Hamilton, Adonis Rose and Jerry McGowan among others. He has performed with Donald Harrison, Ellis Marsalis, Ernestine Anderson, Dr. John, Branford Marsalis, Stefon Harris, Christian Scott, Dr. Lonnie Smith, as well as with Grammy winners Nicholas Payton, Allen Toussaint, Bryan Lynch, hip hop producer Darius Harrison, Irvin Mayfield, Terrance Blanchard, Harry Connick Jr, and Esperanza Spalding. Dyson can be found on recordings with Nicholas Payton, Donald Harrison, Jr., Sonny Boy Williamson II, Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, Sullivan Fortner, Dr. Lonnie Smith and others.

In the liner notes of Tom Harrell’s recording, Number Five, he is quoted as saying “I believe in music as an evolutionary power. I believe in peaceful resolution. I believe in love. Music reflects the world and I’m trying to convey love through my music. The world of art represents a peaceful philosophy towards life.” We need this force in our world now more than ever. Art is a form of expression that can be used to thoughtfully respond to violence and confusion. It can also serve as a soothing balm to calm tormented souls desperate for peace.” Come to the VJC on Saturday, October 14th and appreciate the deep beauty that Harrell coaxes out of his horn.

The VJC is honored to present Harrell and his quartet; tickets to concerts with this popular artist are likely to sell out, so purchase them in advance. The VJC is especially grateful for the sponsorship of the Tom Harrell Quartet by Ellis Music (Dave Ellis and Ann Greenawalt) and our dear and generous friend, Diana Bingham. The VJC is also thankful for the ongoing support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, Hampton Inn of Brattleboro. VJC publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WFCR and Olga Peters of WKVT’s Green Mountain Mornings.

Tickets for The Tom Harrell Quartet at the Vermont Jazz Center are $20+ general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts); available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at, by email at Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is available by calling the VJC at 802 254 9088.

Sound Tracks NPR interview taken in 2012

Excerpt from Tom’s solo on his tune “Basel” from a concert with the quartet in Basel.

Tom Harrell with Horace Silver Quartet in 1985

Tom Harrell Quartet – Journey to the Stars

Tom Harrell Quintet with Joe Lovano – Sail Away in 1995

Tom Harrell in 1988 with Phil Woods Quartet