Roy Hargrove Quintet and the RH Factor

Record review

Texas Platters

Roy Hargrove

Nothing Serious (Verve)

The RH Factor

Distractions (Verve)

Roy Hargrove keeps his ear to the street. Even as the Waco-born, Dallas-bred trumpeter has released a successful string of straight-up, hard-bop LPs, he's also recorded with Erykah Badu and D'Angelo and toured through Austin frequently with a deliciously funky quintet. In this light, it's no surprise Hargrove has released two albums simultaneously: Nothing Serious, a no-frills, in-the-pocket, mainstream affair, and Distractions, an up-to-the-minute groove excursion with his R&B/hip-hop/jazz collective, RH Factor. The former finds Hargrove's standard quintet tight and frisky after four years on the road. The 36-year-old leader demonstrates why he's among the most accomplished musicians of his generation, whether firing off flurries of blue notes or gently caressing a melody on his buttery flügelhorn. Not to be outdone, alto saxman Justin Robinson conjures up the serpentine sound of the wickedly dexterous Eric Dolphy. Underrated piano veteran Ronnie Matthews sparkles throughout, while statesman trombonist Slide Hampton guests on three tracks. No surprises here, and at a compact 45 minutes, there's nothing superfluous either on this finely crafted date. Back on the street, Hargrove lends his jazz chops to the easy groovin' beat-fest of RH Factor's Distractions. Showcasing how naturally these styles coalesce in the right hands, the trumpeter blends effortlessly into the stew, be it a sultry R&B ballad, a George Clintonian rave, or a D'Angelo-produced scratch 'n' beat mix. Any way you slice this one, it's party time, and Roy Hargrove is havin' a blast.

(Both) ***

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