Earfood

October 2008By Comments

Waco-born trumpeter Roy Hargrove began recording as a bandleader back in 1990, though as a sideman his forceful yet crystalline tones had caught jazz fans’ ears even earlier. When he signed with Verve Records, in 1993, he became a bit of a dabbler: He did an all-star tenor saxophone project here, a Charlie Parker tribute there, sessions with strings, some soul/funk with the RH Factor band, even a Grammy-winning venture into Cuban music. Though eminently listenable, these were all characterized by a certain restraint. In his role as a chameleon, Hargrove never found the ease he’d had blowing it out in a club. Nothing Serious, in 2006, put him back in a straight jazz setting, but Earfood (Emarcy) goes one step further, landing him in the studio with his working quintet and capturing a fiery, sonically powerful, spontaneous feel. A few of his originals seem to meander, and the set is too ballad-heavy, but as Hargrove and band step forward on “I’m Not So Sure,” “Mr. Clean,” and a live version of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It On Home to Me,” they lose all semblance of understatement, settle in, and show us how it’s done.

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