often alienate themselves from their audience when they decide to experiment
musically; however, jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove is an exception
as he taps into fertile ground kicking rock solid rhythms glazed with
a heavy dose of cosmic funk on his current release entitled “Hard
Groove”, featuring his new band The RH Factor. Most
importantly, Roy has evolved artistically; therefore, spreading
his wings at this point should be no surprise. Roy effectively
blends soul, jazz, R&B, funk and hip-hop with attitude.
Players: Roy Hargrove ~ Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Keyboards and Vocals;
Keith Anderson ~ Alto Sax; Jacques Schwarz-Bart ~ Tenor Sax; Bernard
Wright ~ Keyboards; Bobby Sparks ~ Clavinet; Spanky (Chalmers Alford)
~ Guitar; Cornell Dupree ~ Guitar; Pino Palladiono~ Bass; D’Angelo ~ Vocals and Wurlitzer; Reggie Washington ~
Bass; Jason Thomas ~ Drums; Daniel Moreno ~ Percussion; Common ~ Vocal
(Rap); James Poyser ~ Rhodes & Keyboards & BK; Willie Jones
III ~ Drums; Dontae Winslow ~ BK and MPC drum machine; Maurice Brown ~
Trumpet & BK; Marc Cary ~ Wurlitzer; Gene Lake ~ Drums; Butler ~
MPC drum machine; Anthony Hamilton ~ Vocals; Meshell Ndegeocello ~
Bass; Shelby Johnson ~ Vocals; Renee Neufville ~ Vocals; Karl Denson ~
Flute; Tony Suggs ~ B3 Organ; John Lee ~ Bass; Kwaku Obeng ~
Percussion; Q-Tip & Erykah Badu ~ Vocals.
from the platform of Hip-hop with traces of Neo Soul on
the title track “Hard Groove”. The opening piece
rhythmically navigates from a slow to mid-tempo vibe revealing an
appetizing groove that’s little tight but right.
Free Style” features hip-hop stylist Common, he
challenges the listener too comprehend his free style
renderings leaving the jazz listener in the state of awe, meanwhile
the RH Factor negotiates the rule of funk by keeping the groove
in sequence. Roy’s tonality lies inclusively and totally
unaffected by his background chants and vocals, abbreviated by the
throbbing bass licks of Reggie
Washington and the band!
D’Angelo lends his voice and keyboard work to “I’ll
Stay”. This is raspy rhythm and blues dipped in cholesterol free
funk. Hargrove describes D’Angelo as “a complicated
cat with a lot of talent” and how he “felt pressure to perform at
the top of his game while playing with D’Angelo”
… in this case Hargrove proves his point!
appears to be a wealth of “Interlude(s)” presentthese
days, so why not here? Bassist Reggie Washington again kicks
his massive bass licks into the stratosphere mode making it all
T” makes its appearance at the five spot, mirroring attributes
of funk bands from yesteryear, kickin’ it like nobody’s business! Roy’s
band (TheRH Factor) seriously grooves here, trading
solos like hotcakes and sausage, making this a pleasurable and
the sixth position is a track titled “Poetry”, featuring
hip-hop rapper Q-Tip and vocalist Erykah Badu.Meshell
Ndegeocello plays bass and of course, Roy works the
trumpet, along with the keyboards & piano. Conceptually this track
works; the band draws from the energy hip-hop weaving the two elements
together keeping the groove intact.
Joint” starts out on the dark side; however, Roy steps in,
servin’ a touch of tonal superiority as this cat named Butler drops
in with a hip virtual drum solo and grooves.
Stephanie McKay is featured on “Forget Regret”.She breaks down matters of the heart in an exclusive offbeat
manner, yet sliced rhythmic textures sizzling with continuity.
band gets seriously funky with a tune called “Out of Town”.This track is overloaded with hints of MilesDavis
meets Weather Report.Saxophonist
Steve Coleman slides in the set with his burning alto as
bassist Reggie Washington once again intercedes while seemingly
suspended in a cauldron of bona-fide funk, capturing the spirit of
musical innovation at it’s best.
Streets” dramatically changes directions in tempo and melody.
Pianist James Poyser and Keyboardist Bernard Wright put
it all into perspective with this sobering intrusion of harmonic
Hamilton flips the script vocally with
“Kwah/Home”, a little down home soul piece penned by
Hargrove. After three minutes plus, the tune changes its
course, vibrating into a mid-tempo funk groove. Here, the band again
achieves their goal of drawing the listener inside their groove.
I Know” penned by Hargrove, Alford, Palladino and Johnson,
features the lovely voice of Shelby Johnson. Ms Johnson
explains the pains of love soulfully yet confidently, assuring you
that she knows of what love is all about.
embarks on another complex musical entity called “Juicy”,
which begins as a deep drenched reggae funk groove slowly evolving
from an intensely mixed distorted brass introduction. Interestingly,
he ends up riffing over a sublime jazz groove accented by the
hip-hop/neo-soul colorings of vocalist Renee Neufville.
Stroke” is a Hargrove penned tune that wraps up the set.
It reminds me of Donald Byrd, the tempo is deliberately slow
and showcases the diversity of the RH Factor as a band to be
plausible that Hargrove hasn’t accomplished anything prolific
here, but in reality that doesn’t matter. His focus is clearly
defined. Hargrove’s artistic footprint is firmly stamped into
place; his lifelong dream stemming from his childhood has been
fulfilled with the utmost integrity and flawless tonality. Hard
Groove the album is a melting pot of musical ingredients that
includes a hefty mix of jambalaya stirred and well shaken into a slow
smoked groove called “Hargrove”.