Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Week 32

Earfood by the Roy Hargrove Quintet

This is one of my favorite contemporary jazz records of all time. Two reasons: 1. The concept. 2. The sound. 

1. Hargrove's concept was to make a record that well, sounds good. He intentionally avoided ambient, artistic, over-lengthened modern jazz and instead picked plenty of catchy melodies, sweet songs, and easy-to-listen solos. 'Bout time someone got hip to this. 

2. Keep reading. 

The boppy opener "I'm Not So Sure" certainly kicks off this disc in a food-for-the-ear way. Catchy head, drivin' beats, and some clean, cool soloing from Hargrove and saxophonist Justin Robinson.

The third tune is one of the standouts on the album. "Strasbourg/St. Denis" is one of the only jazz tunes I've heard for which I can sing all of the solos. Although it's a simple one, the soloists are just killer from top to bottom. Give it a listen:

Later in the album, Hargrove channels his inner funkiness in "Mr. Clean." Similarly to "Strasbourg" albeit with some funkier harmonies, this one is still very palatable with lots of room for head-bobbing. 

Other standouts are the mellow "Starmaker, "Divine," and "Style." The track "Divine," puts trumpet with piano in a mellow feel over a sparse bass and brush groove. This one shows off Hargrove's versatility and contrasts well with the head-solo-solo-solo-head form of most of the album's tunes.

The album closes out with a soulful, live version of Sam Cooke's "Bring it On Home To Me." Time to take 'em to church! From the beginning, you know that you may as well settle in and sit back. Hargrove gives us some down-home soloing that's plenty energetic although to this listener, this tune is kind of short. Would've been nicer to hear the group get live on this last one!
In conclusion, this is an excellent album that's the brainchild of an excellent trumpeter. If you have a hard time getting into "jazz" this would be a solid place to start. Give it a listen!

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