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Roy Hargrove: Emergence

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Given Roy Hargrove’s chameleonic track record to date, having moved restlessly from a classic Miles-like acoustic quintet format to Afro-Cuban grooves to hip-hop-generation biz and back, one might suspect that his first big-band album is yet another casual addition to his expanding musical wardrobe. But, in fact, Hargrove has been working on-and workshopping-this project since 1995, mostly out of NYC’s Jazz Gallery. No doubt, that depth of involvement and passion for the medium are reasons Emergence comes out swinging, searching and cooing as assuredly at it does.

On the album, Hargrove keeps his cool and lets the band enjoy a loose camaraderie rather than going for a too-slick big-band approach. The leader also manages to incorporate various stylistic interests he has shown in the past, including a shuffling old-school blues chart (“Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey”), nods toward Cuba (Chucho Valdés’ “Mambo for Roy”), and ’60s-style modal musings (“Tschpiso,” arranged by pianist Gerald Clayton).

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