Tom Harrell is a god amongst men.
I constantly find myself on the ‘toob viewing Tom Harrell videos. I just can’t help it. There is such a plethora of his material- from studio recordings to rehearsal tapes- and each video is top tier stuff.
I think it’s fair to say Harrell is heavily Bird influenced. Especially in this solo, his rhythmic concepts, arc of solo, and harmonic approach is most definitely rooted in the Parker school.
Like many Harrell originals, Night time is loosely based off part of a standard, this one being the 8 bar A section of On Green Dolphin Street; although the last two bars return to the Im7 instead of ii/v-ing into B. With the exception of the first 12-13 bars of ii-v’s, the 8 bar progression of IMJ7/ /Im7/ /II7/ /Im7/ / is repeated 4 times. It’s cool to see how Harrell navigates that progression- especially how he keeps finding fresh ways to outline the change between IMJ7 and Im7.
In regards to content, harmonically Harrell is all over ‘dem chord tones. After a quick scan through the written transcription it’s possibly ridiculous how many chord tones he fits in. But it wasn’t his harmonic approach to this tune that grabbed me, it was more the construction of his lines as well as his points of entry for each passage. A teacher told me a while back to shed entries-that is, to be able to enter on any beat, or shift a passage to any beat. Although I’m yet to fully shed that idea I’ve definitely become more conscious where I enter in any given bar. I’ve spotted a trend that I will enter on the same beat for a lot of a solo, especially when feeling uncomfortable eg. burning tempos. Harrell retains interest in his solo by entering at different points in the bar, whether it be on or off the beat, or at the start or end of the bar. This coupled with Harrell’s varying lengths of lines, keeps the listener listening, which is what we want, right? It all comes down to motif development, and being able to shift an idea however many beats/half beats is one of the most effective rhythmic ways to develop your idea.
In regards to the process I took for this one, If you by any chance had read my post of transcribing (LINK) you’d be happy to hear that I memorised the solo before I committed it to paper/pdf. Also, much like the Clifford Brown solo from the same article, I decided to ‘crop’ the solo and only transcribe a portion of the full solo. The video goes for around 4 minutes but I made an executive decision to only transcribed the first minute or so. I felt like the first two choruses were the most organic in regards to content and arc of solo…give it a listen, you’ll know what I mean.
The transcription actually halted progress on my Casey Benjamin solo transcription on R.G.E’s Cherish The Day. Hopefully I will be able to chuck that up soon, its a toughie. Also some Phil Slater once that is completed. Yiew.
For good measure I’m going to embed a video that I chucked up on the ‘toob long ago. Actually, my first upload. It’s a mind boggling cover of Clifford Brown’s Joy Spring off vocalist Helen Merrill’s album. Catch is, it’s solo trumpet. Need I say more, check it out and froth like I did.