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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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ROY HARGROVE BIG BAND

Emergence

Emarcy 0602527079240

 

 


1. Velera
2. Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey
3. My Funny Valentine
4. Mambo for Roy
5. Requiem
6. September in the Rain
7. Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye
8. La Puerta
9. Roy Allan
10. Tschpiso
11. Trust 

Roy Hargrove - Trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals
Roberta Gambarini - Vocals (tracks 7, 8)
Frank Greene, Greg Gisbert, Darren Barrett, Ambrose Akinmisure - Trumpets
Jason Jackson, Vincent Chandler, Saunders Sermons - Trombones
Max Seigel - Bass trombone
Bruce Williams, Justin Robinson - Alto sax, flute
Norbert Stachel, Keith Loftis - Tenor sax, flute
Jason Marshall - Baritone sax, flute
Gerald Clayton - Piano
Danton Boller - Bass
Saul Rubin - Guitar
Montez Coleman - Drums
Roland Guerrero - Percussion

 

One's heart might sink at the arrival of another big band led by a musician better known for small-group work. Many jazzers these days seem determined to try leading a big band, even if only on a CD. In fact this ensemble was started in the mid-nineties, although this is its first record album.

The warm voicings in the first track, Velera, dispel some doubts about the wisdom of yet another big band in the current climate. Roy Hargrove wrote and arranged this number, and his flugelhorn soon makes an appearance, confirming the belief that he is the star of the group. But Hargrove uses tunes and arrangements by some other writers, as well as interspersing a few jazz standards. The only problem with this opening track is that it sounds more like a prelude than a complete tune.

Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey has a shuffling feel reminiscent of the Pink Panther theme, with a gyrating baritone sax solo followed by a solo from a trumpeter who might or might not be Hargrove. The sleeve doesn't identify the soloists, which is a shame. There is some nice sectional counterpoint towards the end of this track, as there is on a couple of other tracks.

My Funny Valentine gives Roy a chance to show his talent as a ballad player, while Mambo for Roy is a Latin-American piece written by Chucho Valdes and containing plenty of Latin fire. Requiem is a long piece but Frank Lacy's arrangement manages to conjure up many intriguing sounds in the course of more than 13 minutes.

Singer Roberta Gambarini adds good vocals to Ev'rytime We Say Goodbye and La Puerta. Gambarini makes Ev'ry Time her own, avoiding comparisons with Ella Fitzgerald's classic interpretation, but it has an awkward passage in the middle, where Roy Hargrove's flugelhorn playing in 4/4 conflicts with the rhythm section trying to play a jazz waltz. Hargrove himself takes the vocals on September in the Rain and reverts to old-time practices by humorously swapping scat-singing with the massed band. The jazz standards show up the fact that Roy doesn't produce very memorable melodies and this is one of the album's weaknesses, despite the high standard of the playing.

However, the album's strength is that many tunes avoid the big-band habit of accompanying each solo with backings from brass or reeds. The soloists here are often allowed to get on with their work with only the rhythm section as accompanists. All in all, this is an enjoyable album without being outstanding. Dale Fitzgerald's sleeve-note mentions "the great big bands of the past, Ellington, Basie, Mingus, Gillespie" - but all those had distinctive styles which set them apart from other big bands. I can't imagine that anyone hearing this album in a blindfold test would be able to identify it as the Hargrove band rather than many other big bands.

Tony Augarde 



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