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.


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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