The RH Factor “Hard Groove”

featuring Roy Hargrove


Artists 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.


The 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.


Roy draws 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. 

Common 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! 

Vocalist 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! 

There appears to be a wealth of “Interlude(s)” present these days, so why not here? Bassist Reggie Washington again kicks his massive bass licks into the stratosphere mode making it all worthwhile.  

Pastor T” makes its appearance at the five spot, mirroring attributes of funk bands from yesteryear, kickin’ it like nobody’s business! Roy’s band (The RH Factor) seriously grooves here, trading solos like hotcakes and sausage, making this a pleasurable and memorable piece.  

At 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. 

The 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. 

Vocalist 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. 

The band gets seriously funky with a tune called “Out of Town”.  This track is overloaded with hints of Miles Davis 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.  

Liquid 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 sodalities. 

Anthony 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.   

How 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. 

Roy 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. 

The 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 taken seriously.  

It’s 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”.  

Recommended for music enthusiast’s everywhere!