Waco-born, Dallas-bred trumpeter Roy Hargrove used to blow through town somewhat regularly with a scorching quintet that mined the funky soul jazz made famous by Blue Note and Prestige Records in the 1960s and 1970s. The two-time Grammy winner has a new quintet, and his penchant for that infectious retro sound is still apparent on Earfood, with the most compelling tunes skewing in a soulful direction. The modified boogaloo of Cedar Walton's "I'm Not So Sure" and "Mr. Clean," copped from Freddie Hubbard's classic album Straight Life, plus a live reading of Sam Cooke's gospel-drenched "Bring It on Home to Me" are the standouts, along with Hargrove's more mainstream "The Stinger." Even so, the overall feel of the album is too sterile, and the preponderance of ballads causes a loss of steam toward the end. Despite a formidable foil on the front line with Birdish alto saxophonist Justin Robinson, Hargrove could stand to sustain the groove.
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