PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Music

Roy Hargrove: Earfood

A tour-de-force in hard bop funk and romantic balladry, Roy Hargrove's Earfood stands out as one of the finest musical moments of 2008.


The Roy Hargrove Quintet

Earfood

Label: Emarcy
US Release Date: 2008-07-29
UK Release Date: 2008-06-02
Amazon
iTunes

Stunningly consistent in his output of quality art, Roy Hargrove adds to his already impressive discography another fine recording that soothes the soul, arouses the mind, and most importantly, pleases the ears. Firmly anchored by captivating originals and covers, Hargrove’s latest release, Earfood, proves why the talented trumpeter from Dallas, Texas occupies such an esteemed place among modern jazz musicians. Wasting no time in showcasing his fine interpretive skills, Hargrove opens the disc with the searing Cedar Walton number, “I’m Not So Sure”, depositing loads of attitude and funk into a performance eerily reminiscent of the gutbucket soul of Donaldson Toussaint L'Ouverture Byrd II, Freddie Hubbard, and the late Lee Morgan. Leaving space for his talented young pianist Gerald Clayton to give due respect to the vastly underrated Walton, Hargrove resurrects not only the style but the spirit of his jazz heroes. Quite a few esteemed critics have waxed eloquently on Clifford Brown’s influence on Hargrove’s balladry, but on Earfood’s first track, the influence of other jazz greats shines brightly. One can’t help but think about Lee Morgan’s “Sidewinder”, Donald Byrd’s “Slow Drag” or “Black Jack”, or Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” when listening to Hargrove seductively caress the groove on “I’m Not So Sure”.

Thankfully, the good times keep rolling on Weldon Irvine’s “Mr. Clean” and the propulsive “Strasburg/St. Denis”. Hargrove’s powerful projection of notes on the latter harkens to a time when jazz brought people to the dance floor. Unfortunately, far too many music insiders and outsiders view jazz as introspective art best enjoyed in solitude, but “Strasburg/St. Denis” transports us back to the art form’s funky and communal roots, providing a brief but enjoyable glimpse of those public and private spaces where African Americans danced the night away. Much to my delight, Hargrove grooves hard with the bare essentials: drum, bass, brass, and piano. Every staggered note serves as a reminder that jazz musicians can get their swerve on without plugging in.

Now the previous sentence should not be taken as a slight against Hargrove’s fusion recordings. Without question, the trumpeter’s forays into hip-hop, funk, and soul on his RH Factor series with Verve provided long time fans with a perfect change of pace from the Diamond in the Rough- Moment to Moment era . It ‘s just important to note that the acoustic funk of “Mr. Clean”, “I’m Not Sure”, and “Strasburg” brings the noise as fiercely as its electric predecessors. Much of this can be attributed to the fiery playing of Hargrove and his brilliant pianist Gerald Clayton. Zigzagging through the beat with the rhythmic sense of a gifted drummer, Clayton displays great confidence and skill.

Of course, no Hargrove release would be complete without a few hair raising ballads that induce memories of love lost and love gained. The surreal “Starmaker”, the heartfelt “Joy Is Sorrow Unmasked”, and the hauntingly beautiful numbers, “Divine” and “Speak Low” should definitely please longtime fans enamored with Hargrove’s sentimental side. Not one of these ballads disappoints, yet there’s something particularly moving about “Speak Low”, Hargrove’s ode to his (and my) favorite jazz singer, Sarah Vaughan. On this lush tune, love’s appreciative side shines as he comforts the listener with his colorful tones and delicate phrasing. Undoubtedly “Sassy” and the amazing Clifford Brown are looking down with pride at their most ardent student.

Talented musicians come and go in the world of jazz, either fulfilling their potential or succumbing to the temptations of mediocrity and artistic stagnation. Somehow, someway, Roy Hargrove has remained on the top of his game for more than eighteen years. Over the course of his stellar recording career, he has mastered the art of the jazz ballad, breezed through the staggered rhythms of hard bop, and wisely incorporated the sounds of funk and hip-hop into his studio outings and live shows. Quite simply, he boasts a model career. Not only has the Texan-born trumpeter released an impressive body of work as a leader, but in the role of composer and session player, he’s participated in two of the most important artifacts to come out of the Neo-Soul movement: D’Angelo’s brilliant Voodoo and Common’s magisterial Like Water For Chocolate.

Fortunately for those of us appreciative of this man’s gift, Roy Hargrove has stayed committed to creating first-rate art of the highest quality. Nothing proves this more than the beautiful music found on Earfood.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'A Peculiar Indifference' Takes on Violence in Black America

Pulitzer Prize finalist Elliott Currie's scrupulous investigation of the impacts of violence on Black Americans, A Peculiar Indifference, shows the damaging effect of widespread suffering and identifies an achievable solution.

Music

20 Songs From the 1990s That Time Forgot

Rather than listening to Spotify's latest playlist, give the tunes from this reminiscence of lost '90s singles a spin.

Film

Delightful 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day' Is Good Escapism

Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Bharat Nalluri's 2008 romantic comedy, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, provides pleasant respite in these times of doom and gloom.

Film

The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.

Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Music

Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.

Music

Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.

Music

Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.

Music

Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.

Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.