07 January 2007

Roy Hargrove Quintet @ The Folly Theater

Notes from Saturday's concert.

Roy Hargrove didn't come to talk
Each concert on the Folly Jazz series generally begins with a "Jazz Talk," where the Folly's Doug Tatum spends a half hour making polite conversation with the headliner. At the Kenny Barron show last month, Tatum announced that Hargrove wouldn't be jazz talking. Once the band took the stage, it appeared the code of silence would be extended. Hargrove and his quintet worked their way through a delicious five-song set before the 37-year-old leader spoke into his dedicated voice microphone, introducing the band and saying they'd be back.

Hargrove and his band did come to play, however, and damn, what a show. I'm not going to pretend I recognized every tune, but the first set did include Charlie Parker's "Marmaduke" and a rendition of "My Foolish Heart" (with Hargrove on flugelhorn) that was truly transcendent. The second set was largely drawn from Hargrove's Nothing Serious CD, released last year (and well worth checking out). The capper was a barnstorming rendition of the title track. A friend tells me a called it a "rousing closer" last night. What can I say: I was roused.

Pretty much every damn band that comes to KC gets a standing ovation, but this time it was more than deserved. And the encore it provoked was as full of surprise as the rest of the night, a vocal of September In the Rain, sung and scatted by Mr. H.

Nothing says "I've finished this solo" like walking off stage
Hargrove took the stage looking every bit the leader, dressed in a sharp black suit, black shirt and grey tie. Immediately after he's finished his first solo, he turned on his heel and walked off stage. He hung out in the wings for a while and then reappeared, much to my relief. This was a taste of things to come and a testament to the portability of the brass.

I figure that since Hargrove is from Texas, he just likes to roam. Sometimes he'd move down stage and shuffle to the beat. Sometimes he chimed in on someone else's solo. When you're the leader that's your prerogative. So while the rhythm section hung out, tethered to their instruments, Hargrove and alto sax player Justin Robinson got to move freely about the stage. Robinson is less practiced at this, and drummer Montez Coleman had to holler him back to the mike for his next solo.

Again with the miked drum kit

Hargrove ensemble is made up of fresh faces, with the exception of Coleman who has been a sideman of note for years. He played on Bobby Watson's excellent Live & Learn. This was my first time seeing him play live and what a treat. That said, I still don't understand the decision to mike the drum kit, given the Folly's wonderful accoutics (even better in the balcony). I think this only contributed to the trouble at the last Folly Jazz event.

Pianist Gerald Clayton's playing was as precise and delicate as his long slender hands (and the fabric of his sweater), while bassist Joe Sanders played with an amzing combination of force and precision.

Come back anytime
In his introduction, Doug Tatum said he'd been trying to get Hargrove on the stage at the Folly for 10 years. If it takes another 10 to get him back, it will be worth the wait.

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