Looking for something special in the way of a good sounding CD, check out the latest release from trumpeter Roy Hargrove and his quintet. As a protégé of Wynton Marsalis, Roy seriously began his professional career in 1988 while studying at Berklee School of Music, which led to gigs in New York City and more studies at The New School. This was the ideal environment for Hargrove and led to numerous professional gigs and a recording contract with saxophonist Bobby Watson. Since those early days as one of the so-called “young lions of jazz,” Roy has become one of the most prolific trumpeters in jazz and has recorded more than 15 albums as a leader. His latest release entitled ‘Earfood’ is exactly that, food for the cerebral mind and an excellent CD to say the least.
Recorded with Hargrove’s touring band, ‘Earfood’ is a subset of varying influences and seven original tunes. There are thirteen tracks of beautifully adapted ballads and standards, all of which have been arranged in a contemporary/traditional jazz setting. Solos by Hargrove are mystical in approach and are supplemented brilliantly by pianist Gerald Clayton, saxophonist Justin Robinson, bassist Danton Bolder and drummer Montez Coleman. The end result is a musically addictive brand of jazz that is habitual to listen to.
As stated earlier, ‘Earfood’ combines the influences of such notable individuals as Cedar Walton, Weldon Irvine, James Williams and Larry Willis with six Hargrove originals. At each and every juncture of influence, the accepted notion that there are no enduring qualities in jazz is proven to be a misguided perception. From the very onset of this recording, Roy Hargrove as a leader is brilliant on such tunes as “Mr. Clean,” “Starmaker,” “Joy Is Sorrow Unmasked” ans Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home To Me.” The other nine tracks are stellar and exhibit the beautifully executed blend of jazz Roy Hargrove has become noted for.
Commercially speaking, jazz is a very viable entertainment medium; but commercially speaking, bean counters refuse to give credit its due. When examining the total impact of ‘Earfood,’ it can be duly noted this genre of music is not dead as a mode of entertainment. Historically, Hargrove is the future of jazz and will be categorized as one of the great influences of his generation. It is a small wonder that at a very early stage in Roy’s career, Wynton Marsalis saw the exceptional talent that shines through on ‘Earfood’ and in all the other Roy Hargrove releases. This latest CD should be rated as one of the finest releases in 2008. Watch closely as the creative flow of influential talent unfolds across the intuitive spirit that comes from within.
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