Since his initial emergence in the late '80s, Roy Hargrove has not only established himself as an inspired player (on both trumpet and flugelhorn), but also as a particularly adventurous jazz artist who thrives on eclecticism. His quintet generally focuses on hard bop, but also the sophisticated post-bop that dominated 2008's Earfood. He concentrated on Afro-Cuban music with Crisol, winning a 1998 Grammy for Habana. His electric band, RH Factor, explores funk, R&B, and hip hop. And always there are hints of gospel, soul, free jazz, and cross-pollinations. Hargrove's newest foray is into the rich big-band realm of Ellington and Basie. On Emergence (Groovin' High/Emarcy), Hargrove leads a 19-piece outfit built around his working quintet, while Roberta Gambarini adds vocals on the Cole Porter ballad "Every Time We Say Goodbye" and the Cuban sizzler "La Puerta." Juggling standards and originals, the big band dives into fresh arrangements of tunes previously recorded by Hargrove, including the soulful groove of "Roy Allan" and Chucho Valdes's "Mambo for Roy," plus stellar versions of Frank Lacy's "Requiem," and a jaunty "September in the Rain," the latter sporting a surprising Hargrove vocal. Although Hargrove is leaving the big band at home for these gigs, its spirit is likely to linger in the quintet, which will include pianist Jonathan Batiste, bassist Dwayne Burno, drummer Alvin Atkinson, and Justin Robinson on sax and flute.
Mondays, Sundays, 7 & 9:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 24. Continues through Jan. 25, 2010