|Roy Hargrove at Brecon 2008|
Photo credit: William Ellis
(Ronnie Scott's. Monday 7th November. First night of two)
It was in two impeccable ballads played on flugelhorn at Ronnie Scott's last night that Roy Hargrove absolutely delivered the goods for me last night. Jay Livingston's Never Let Me Go in the first half, and then Warren/Young's You're My Everything in the second were both played with purity of line, perfectly balanced tone, with a rhythm section alive and alert to every nuance, something special.
It was probably just me, but my mind wandered at other times, during the Hargrove compositions. Interesting tunes, with tricksy corners, but they weren't holding my attention. This might have less to do with the music than with possibly irrelevant externalities. No introductions or explanations, the band virtually segued the tunes. But also, with something to celebrate, I was lucky enough to be in the front row. From that vantage point, it is easy to be distracted by the sight of the hundreds of little encouraging gestures and glances that the rhythm section members throw in each others' direction. Ameen Saleem somehow gave the impression that his life and energy and sense of mischief and comic timing could probably keep a whole busful of musicians in stitches for a very long journey. The other two rhythm section players, both of them more recent recruits to Hargrove's working band, were in constant motion. Sullivan Fortner's comping under the front line players was always finding interesting cross-rhythms. Quincy Phillips is an elegant, lively and creative drummer completing a trio which seemed to have mastered the art of endogenous chemical reaction and generate lots of its own heat and light.
Earlier, James Pearson's trio with Sam Burgess had gone out with a stormer, Oscar Peterson's Hallelujah Time (here's one Oscar did earlier) , which gave the cue for Pearson to bring joy to a lively tune, and for Pedro Segundo to win over the audience as he unfailingly does. This time he held them captive by making them wait a moment or two for his hi-hat slowly to close. Taking. His. Time. Simple. Brilliant. And he got the crowd into celebratory mood.