June 13, 2024

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Roy Hargrove is known best for his straight-ahead and bebop jazz albums, recorded with his acoustic quintet: Video

16.10. – Happy Birthday !!! Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove is known best for his straight-ahead and bebop jazz albums, recorded with his acoustic quintet. But the versatile musician also has a band called RH Factor which plays a funky mixture of ’70s R&B, soul and jazz.

Instead of deciding which direction to go for his latest project, Hargrove recently released two CDs simultaneously — one by each of his bands. Hargrove grew up in Dallas listening to his father’s funk and R&B records, but his biggest musical influence was a high school teacher who introduced him to traditional jazz.

He rejects critics who say he records R&B records simply because jazz records don’t make as much money. Being able to play and record both, he says, just feels natural. “I feel this music, that’s why I do it,” he says about his RH Factor CDs. “It’s about as simple as that.”

The straight-ahead jazz release, Nothing Serious, features a mix of Latin-tinged, upbeat tunes and soft ballads. Hargrove’s solos on trumpet and flugelhorn are graceful and melodic. On Distractions, the RH Factor CD, the jazz influence is kept to a minimum — except maybe for the sophisticated chord progressions and tasteful background horn lines provided by Hargrove and fellow Texan David “Fathead” Newman.

Nothing Serious doesn’t push the envelope of the post-bop jazz genre, and Distractions doesn’t have the hip-hop flavor that other R&B groups are exploring. But what Hargrove and his bands deliver are sweet acoustic jazz and neo-1970s soul, played in easily digestible bite-sized pieces by self-confident master musicians.

Boris Johnson and Sebastian Coe aren’t known to be great cheerleaders for jazz, so their public support for London’s current BluesFest is confirmation of the event’s high profile. It also suggests, of course, that they’re keen to get themselves a spot of reflected hipness in the run-up to the Olympics.

Roy Hargrove, the 41 year-old Dallas‑born trumpeter, may not have the drawing power of such BluesFest celebs as BB King or Liza Minnelli, but he’s never been short of hipness. Mentored as a teenager by Wynton Marsalis, he has a flaring tone and a lyrical warmth; his fusing of traditional and contemporary music turns his gigs into exuberant jazz history lessons. He began with the crisp 1960s hard-bop style, with a new band including the excellent New Orleans-born pianist Sullivan Fortner, and formidable young drummer Montez Coleman.

Hargrove’s snappy phrase turns and vibrato-laden long notes, pared with alto saxist Justin Robinson’s fluent improvisations, embellished a selection of swingers and Latin shuffles, as Coleman adjusted his dynamics both to the soloists and to the Union Chapel’s echo. A sumptuous flugelhorn ballad and a tentative shot at Nat King Cole’s vocal style on Never Let Me Go preceded a final half hour in which Hargrove’s earthiest instincts took over.

Driven by a slamming backbeat from Coleman and funk pulse from bassist Ameen Saleem, the horn players spun a bright, high-pitched post-bop theme, as Fortner uncorked a wild, jangling chordal solo. On Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home to Me, Hargrove took to marching, New Orleans-style, around the church. It could hardly have caught the BluesFest spirit better.

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