The Roy Hargrove Quintet – Earfood

The Roy Hargrove Quintet
Sounds of Timeless Jazz

Sound nutrition makes for a long life. That saying can be interpreted in a number of ways but there’s no mix-up about Roy Hargrove’s emphatic choice of musical ingredients on EARFOOD. Backed by his awesome ensemble of Justin Robinson, Gerald Clayton, Danton Boller, and Montez Coleman, the double-Grammy Award winning trumpeter has further developed his award-winning technique on 13 solid gold compositions and fully demonstrates his compositional skills and mastery of brass dynamics and tone control. Sweetened by the Midas touches of producer Larry Clothier, legendary engineer Al Schmitt and mastered by Doug Sax, each song is flawlessly steeped in tradition, sophistication and maintains the intuitive beauty, gently swing, hard grooves, and melodic simplicity that has endeared Hargrove to his multitude of fans.

The set opens with Cedar Walton’s hard bop gem “I’m Not So Sure.” At the head, Hargrove and Robinson are in full harmonic tandem before Hargrove takes the lead with an impressively crafted solo. Robinson and Clayton continue with masterful solos of their own after which the entire ensemble returns to the head and closes with a rousing gospel filled riff. “Brown” abounds with the sophisticated harmonic lines of Hargrove and Robinson. Originally written for inclusion on his Grammy-winning DIRECTIONS IN MUSIC mainstream jazz recording with Herbie Hancock and the late Michael Brecker, Hargrove’s muted trumpet colors overlap the sonic layers the ensemble has simmering just beneath the surface.

This is a great song and one can only imagine the sensitive memories associated with it. It is followed by the crowd pleasing spiral sax and trumpet dance Hargrove and Robinson offer on “Strasbourg/St. Denis.” The reflective, pensive ballads –  “Starmaker,” “Joy Is Sorrow Unmasked,” “Rouge,” “Divine,” and “Speak Low”  – create an impressive nucleus for this masterful body of work. On each, Hargrove enamors his listeners with beautiful emotionally-charged tones and magnificent passages that arouse the senses and feed hidden desires.

“Stinger,” “Style,” and the funk-inflected “Mr. Clean” all draw heavily on the swing and bebop idioms and are ripe with Hargrove’s rich melodic, rhythmic and harmonic articulation. EARFOOD is definitely the kind of sound nutrition that is sure to give Hargrove’s fans an everlasting taste for his style and artistic endeavors.