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Review: Roy Hargrove – Nothing Serious

The Roy Hargrove Quintet’s “Nothing Serious” is one of two recordings issued simultaneously by Verve in 2006. The other, by the RH Factor, called “Distractions” is a funky, neo-soul-jazz recording with guest spots from David “Fathead” Newman and D’Angelo, while this set is strictly acoustic. Willie Jones II is drummer on both sets, but this one features pianist Ronnie Mathews, Dwayne Burno on bass, Justin Robinson on alto and flute, and a guest appearance by Slide Hampton and his trombone on three of the album’s eight tracks. The set opens with the Afro-Cuban flavored title cut by salsero Leo Quintero. The head charges out of the gate with Hargrove’s trumpet double-tracked with flugelhorn and Robinson’s sax. Mathews’ piano is at the bottom here, it carries the other soloists with a wonderful middle register right-hand. Hargrove solos first in strictly bop style. Robinson’s solo is edgy, on the edge of out, and Mathews charges in with a change-up solo until the bridge where he moves the tune along is a twisting salsa rhythm. Hampton’s own “A Day In Vienna,” follows suit with a subtly flavored Latin tinge which is exploited in full by Mathews and Jones. The front line, of the three horns, plays four, four-note patterns before engaging in knotty interplay with the rhythm section. Hampton’s solo is elegant, joyous, and heavy on the rhythmic accent. Hargrove’s “Trust,” is a ballad. graceful, languid, and more lyrical than you’ve heard from him on similar numbers in the past. “Camaraderie,” walks on the edge of free but stays within a the tension-held context of mode. Mathews’ gorgeous modal tune “Salima’S Dance” is one of the finest things here for its depth of swing, and features some serious blowing by Robinson and Hampton. This is a solid date, full of finger-popping tunes, great twists and turns. and spontaneity. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide BMG Music

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