I saw an absolutely amazing concert by Roy Hargrove, jazz legend, at the new jazz club, IRIS. The venue was really nice and it was pleasing to see a new place just for jazz listening, even if their musical lineup tends to lean a little towards the smooth. Roy Hargrove and his band just blew the roof off. His large jam group was comprised up two drum sets, an organist, keyboard player (Robert Glasper, HSPVA grad), guitar, bass, vocalist (who was excellent), and two sax players (on alto and tenor was Keith Anderson). The grooves were hard and the music was incredibly energetic. One thing I really enjoyed was how the band built solos, starting it chill and then taking it to a very high level, with the crowd in hysterics. It was very well put together show, and you could tell the musicians had their act together.
I got to talk to Robert for a while and he is a very interesting cat. We talked a bit about piano players, and he suggested I check out more Lenny Tristano, Ahmad Jamal, and Keith Jarrett. He told me a bit about some of the musicians he has played with in New York, which included pretty much every big name I’ve heard of, including Wynton Marsalis, Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett . . . We talked about his sense of time, which I’ve heard stories about from David a bit. In his trio instead of feeling a beat or measure, he can feel a section, be it eight bars or thirty-two. It allows the music to move in different directions, but still land right. This is really unique and I’d like to hear more of his playing so I could get a better sense of it. He has a new album on its way so I’ll definitely want to check that out. He also gave an interesting perspective on the “Jazz died with Trane” argument: he said that because people Trane did so much and were at such a high level, musicians put them on a pedestal and say to themselves that they’ll never be that good. This mental block actually prevents musicians from advancing because they already have this limit of how far things can go, a pre-conceived idea of that the highest level is. Of course things can always be taken higher, but it takes someone with a lot of guts and talent to do it. I think that Branford doing A Love Supreme (arguably best Coltrane recording ever) on his latest album is a good example of people with a respect and understanding of the past, but still trying to take things to a different level. Jazz shouldn’t move horizontally, it should be moving forward. Look at how much changed from 1940-1960 in jazz, now look back two decades and think of what has really blown you away. Let me know what you think. I know I’ll be thinking about it a lot.
Update: The pictures from tonight are now online.