Tom Harrell: A Humble Brilliance (2018)

Jan Toth
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Name: Jan Toth Main Subject: Jazz Trumpet Research Supervisor: Patrick Schenkius Title of Research: Tom Harrell: A Humble Brilliance Research Question(s): What is it that makes Tom Harrell one of the most praised jazz trumpet players and composers in the world, and how did he achieve that despite his illness? How can we utilise Harrell's knowledge of music and apply it to our own playing? Summary of Results: Tom Harrell is one of those fascinating individuals that despite having history of weird behavior attributed to their illness like schizophrenia, managed to use his inspiration and hard work to become a jazz superstar and an idol to many trumpeters around the world. He is most often described by other musicians and his colleagues as a shy and modest person, both intelligent, and brilliant. In my research I was mostly analysing the brilliance of Mr. Harrell in his music. Beside the fact that he has written hundreds of compositions, some of which became standards, he is known for the lyricism of his playing, creating beautiful and melodic lines. I transcribed and analysed many of his solos to try and get into his way of thinking. He likes using aspects from the basic jazz vocabulary, but connects phrases in the way that it sounds very lyrical and appealing to the ear. He always chooses the prettiest notes and executes phrases with a warm sound. He rarely goes outside and when he does, he doesn't go far and always makes an esthetical figure out of it rather than to complicate things. In my research presentation I will be speaking more about his vocabulary and style of playing. I will demonstrate certain logical things he likes to play and how it can be practised and applied when playing with the band. You can clearly notice how much time and hard work Harrell invested in trumpet playing when you hear him consistently play his stuff through all 12 keys, with minimal difference in regard to the chorus played. His creativity can also be seen in his numerous compositions, which is something I will also touch in my research. Because of his mental condition, Tom Harrell had to live a very disciplinary life in order to make it work for him, which consequently also left him with many free hours to focus on his practising and writing. Biography: Jan Toth is a trumpet player born in Croatia, currently residing and studying in The Netherlands. He became very interested in music at the age of 11, when he first engaged in listening to jazz and blues recordings and started to play different styles of music in local bands. Jan finished the bachelor program at the Conservatory in Klagenfurt under Daniel Nösig, and is currently a student at the Conservatoire in The Hague, with Rik Mol as a mentor. In 2014 he passed the Marianne Mendt Competition to perform at the St. Pölten Jazz Festival alongside top Austrian musicians, and has since then (as well as before that) been a part of many different music projects.
typeresearch exposition
keywordstrumpet performance
last modified31/05/2018
statuslimited publication
published inKC Research Portal
portal issue3. Internal publication

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