Roy Hargrove is a legendary trumpet player from the second wave of “neo-boppers” to emerge in the late 1980s, in the wake of Wynton Marsalis (who discovered him when he was still at university). He has proved to be one of the most talented and one of the most unpredictable of the group. While producing great work alongside Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins and Diana Krall, the Texan (he was born in Waco in 1969) became an artist in his own right, producing some 20 sound manifestoes in a quintet or with his RH Factor, zigzagging from orthodox and inventive jazz to funk or the hottest Afrobeat. The artist that David “Fathead” Newman (Ray Charles’ famous tenor) always cites as an example is today going back to the basics, with a flamboyant post-hard-bop quintet featuring the saxophone of the young and brilliant Justin Robinson. The quintet is a war machine in the thrilling tradition of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. In concert, with music ranging from subtle ballads to unbridled polyphony starting out from a melody by Lee Morgan or “Pinocchio” by Wayne Shorter (the other numbers are usually written by Roy Hargrove himself), the trumpetist seems to be focused on an ensemble sound. With a simple look he suggests a change in direction, inserting silences and breaks at exactly the right moment with a sure sense of inspiration (especially on the flugelhorn), the ensemble leader, soon to be in his fifties, has already acquired the status of one of the greats.
Line-up : Roy Hargrove (tp), Justin Robinson (as, fl), Tadataka Unno (p), Ameen Saleem (b), Quincy Phillips (dr), Mr. Larry Clothier (tour-manager)
Photo : © Andrea Boccalini