Hargrove, at 24, has really arrived. He exhibits the kind of maturity and high musicality that his chief influence, Freddie Hubbard, did at the same age.
The trumpeter is in esteemed company: Johnny Griffin, Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Joshua Redman and Branford Marsalis are the guest tenorists, and the trumpeter's tenorman, Ron Blake, plays on several tracks.
There are no throwaway notes, no forgettable compositions. Turrentine explores a gusty blues and a sun-dappled-cum-potboiling bossa nova, Griffin plays his gorgeous evergreen, "When We Were One," and a lip-smacking shuffle, Henderson his sadly neglected '60s opus, "Serenity." Marsalis ardently approaches Sonny Rollins' "Valse Hot," while Redman is fluidly brilliant on the brisk "Mental Phrasing." Blake proves he can play with the best on "Once Forgotten."
Wherever you listen, Hargrove--who leads his quintet Thursday at Ambassador Auditorium--is doing something right. On "Wild Is Love," his soothing tones are thick and pliant, mirroring the elastic rhythm going on under him; on "Valse Hot," he is biting and direct, the voice of reason wedged between wham-bam solos by Marsalis and Blake; on "Never Let Me Go," he is tender without being cloying.
Cyrus Chestnut (piano), Rodney Whitaker (bass) and Gregory Hutchison (drums) do so much more than just back-up: they drive the proceedings, and sparkle solowise.
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