Tom Harrell, undoubtedly one of the most prolific, beautifully artistic, and technically stellar trumpet players alive today sees horn playing as being a spiritual activity and discipline. This short little clip from his interview for Sound Tracks on PBS is worth the watch, if nothing else because Tom Harrell is a musician you should get to know if you don’t already.

I still recall the first time I heard Tom’s music; his sweet and memorable lines of melody and improvisation on Steve Swallow’s Real Book had me hooked at first earshot. I still recall clearly the hours I spent transcribing his solo on Thinking Out Loud. Tom is worth listening to, he has established himself as a musician deeply in tune with creativity and artistry, and as a technically masterful trumpet player. He’s also on to something here. He gets that music is not merely an earthly or natural thing.

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Over the course of the next week or two I would like to unpack a little of what we can know about this idea of horn playing as a spiritual activity. We will look at two key ideas that Tom touches on here: spiritual and discipline, both of which are a primary focus of The Tuned In Musician and should be of every artist.

For Tom, a fundamental anchor or foundation in this thinking seems to be that breathing is connected to this spiritual reality. So let’s take a breath and chew on that thought, and we’ll come back to it. In the meantime, go listen to some of Tom’s beautiful trumpet playing.

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