Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove is best known for albums recorded with his acoustic quintet. But Hargrove also has a band he calls the RH Factor. They play a mixture of '70s R&B, soul and jazz. Hargrove has released two new CDs, one by each of his bands. Here is music critic Christian Bordal.

(Soundbite of jazz music)


Roy Hargrove was born in Waco, Texas and grew up in Dallas, not exactly the first places that come to mind when you're thinking about jazz. But Hargrove attended a performing arts high school in Dallas where the principal was a jazz trumpet player.

Mr. ROY HARGROVE (Jazz Musician): They had a faculty concert one day, and he came to the rehearsal, and he was playing all these arpeggios and all these like really beautiful harmonic lines. And I asked him, How did you learn how to do that? And he said, well, you know, Clifford Brown was like my main influence; and I didn't know who that was. So he was like, you don't know who that is? So a couple of days later he pulled me out of algebra class, and sat me down and played me these Clifford Brown records, and I was blown away. At that point, that started it. You know, and then I went from there to like Freddie Hubbard to Woody Shaw, it just opened the floodgates, you know.

(Soundbite of Roy Hargrove playing jazz)

BORDAL: Until high school, Hargrove hadn't been exposed to acoustic jazz. He'd grown up listening to his dad's 70's soul, R&B, and funk albums. And it's that musical background that informs the material of his other band, RH Factor. I asked him if starting a funky soul band, was in part, a commercial decision, since jazz doesn't get much of a look in on commercial radio or the sales charts these days.

Mr. HARGROVE: I mean, I'm not buying into the whole thing, all right, I'm going to do a funk record so I can make some money; or I'm going to do a funk record so I can be more commercial; or I want to bring more people into it. I mean, I feel this music, you know, that's why I do it. It's about as simple as that.

(Soundbite of band, RH Factor)

Unidentified Female: (Singing) We 'bout to get up on this thing, the time is now, what you waiting for? It's time for you to get up and show the world what we have in store.

BORDAL: With each of his bands, Hargrove is working in well-established styles that were considered ground-breaking decades ago: bee-bop, and soul-funk R&B. I asked him if it's hard for musicians these days to feel like they're doing something brand new.

Mr. HARGROVE: I think what's brand new is the tribute. And I think that what is an innovation is actually like celebrating or paying tribute to things that have happened before with a more contemporary approach to it.

(Soundbite of band, RH Factor)

Unidentified Female: (Singing) Let's drop the only one. I really need to have it. Maybe we can work it out. I'm the one.

BORDAL: As for Roy Hargrove's new CDs, the playing is tight and effortless. The straight-ahead jazz release, Nothing Serious, has a mix of Latin-tinged upbeat tunes and pretty ballads and Hargrove's solos on trumpet and flugelhorn are graceful and melodic. On Distractions, the RH Factor CD, there's not much of a jazz influence at all, except maybe some sophisticated cords and some tasteful background horn lines provided by Hargrove and fellow Texan, David Fathead Newman. Oh, and the title track, Distractions, which Hargrove tells me started out being about 13 minutes long but got chopped into pieces and spread around the album out of consideration for commercial radio.

(Soundbite of band, RH Factor)

BORDAL: So if you're in the market for some envelope-pushing, out there, post-bop jazz or hard hip-hop, you've come to the wrong place. But if your taste runs to some sweet acoustic jazz, maybe a little neo-70s soul played in easily digestible bite-sized pieces by self-confident master musicians, well, come on down.

(Soundbite of band, RH Factor)


Christian Bordal is a music journalist and radio producer. He comes to us from member station KCRW in Los Angeles. Right now we're listening to Hold On, from Roy Hargrove's album, Distractions. His other new CD is called Nothing Serious and you can hear tunes from both at our website,

(Soundbite of song, Hold On)

Unidentified Male: (Singing) When I check into, I see that you do, what happened to your love, what happened to your love.

BRAND: Stay with us. There's more to come on DAY TO DAY.

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