Hard bop jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove filled the house with eclecticism during a two-hour performance June 2nd at the Dakota Jazz Club. Hargrove is a musical genius who is not afraid to explore sounds from various instruments, instrumentalists, and ensembles. Coupled with his versatility and good taste in music is just one reason why Hargrove's concerts draw pivotal figures in the music industry as well as jazz enthusiasts to gigs like this.
Bristling with energy, unorthodox and daring, Hargrove’s quintet came out swinging on blues, gospel, and funk tunes that were strongly weaved in jazz. Performing a variety of songs from his 2008 CD entitled "Earfood," these jazz cats swung throughout the whole set. Before leaving the bandstand they did something quite miraculous in Minnesota they had everyone in the joint swinging to Sam Cooke’s signature tune "Bring It on Home to Me." This was an amazing feat for a conservative, but jazz friendly Scandinavian group. Their bluesy inflections of pitch and gospel-like harmonies took me back to those days of revival spent at my grandmother’s small country Baptist no air-conditioned church.
The stylized sounds created from some highly individual improvisers included: Dwayne Burno (bass), Sullivan Fortner (piano), Montez Coleman (drum set), Justin Robinson (saxophone), and Roy Hargrove (trumpet/flugelhorn).
Robinson stated backstage that he was a former member of jazz vocalist’s Betty Carter’s ensemble and was once in charge of running the rhythm section during jam sessions at the Blue Note in New York. Extremely disciplined, he brings a variety of flavors to the group. Rarely predictable, he often works at a high level of creativity. Robinson’s mastery of the sax brings sensitivity and delicacy, excitement and power which was intelligently delivered on Cedar Walton's "I’m Not So." Thus, the ensemble forms a funky unison with the young and gifted Fortner, a native of New Orleans native. Burno creates unconventional accompaniment patterns that are both light and weighty.
Throughout the entire performance, Coleman’s presentation on the drum set was mesmerizing. His rhythmic conceptions were free and fiery, expressive and dramatic. Coleman possesses stunning technical prowess and imagination. Unlike any drummer I have seen, Coleman is incredibly outstanding. He assigns a variety of improvisations to every part of the drum kit available which allows him to effectively contrast rhythmic and timbral dimensions.
In depth, each musician displayed incredible dexterity and remarkable talents on their respected instruments that were free from clichés. Their sound is well articulated and possessed strength in tone quality, rhythmic conceptions, and melodic techniques. Collectively the Hargrove experience is a brilliant model of musical exuberance.
The highlight of the evening occurred on Ogden Nash’s "Speak Low." Hargrove showed off his musical range and treated his audience to a spectacular show on the flugelhorn, an instrument known for its softer pitch. This was also an instrument of choice for Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker, and Miles Davis, a few of the trumpeter's favorite musicians.