June 2008

Roy Hargrove's RH Factor
June 28, 2005Star StageToronto
Report by David Fujino with Photos by Roger Humbert
There were band members roaming all over the stage: some shared a laugh in the corner, others adjusted their mobile mics, while others played drum rolls and blew scales. The whole stage became a huge booming speaker.

It was as if the audience had sauntered right into the middle of a New Orleans street parade.

Then Roy Hargrove walked on.

The two drummers and two keyboard players hit — laying down a furious groove which immediately pulled the clapping crowd along. Rene Neufville (vocals and keyboard) kept her eye glued on Brandon Coleman, following his ever twisting and churning lead on keyboards.

The horns stepped up and had their say as Bruce Williams' alto, the baritone of Jason Marshall, and Hargrove's spikey trumpet huddled together front stage in a three-way talk. They spoke a fervent dialect known as hard bop.

But wait — the entire RH Factor band is now up and playing. It's party music.

The band stops, and turns on a dime.

Suddenly a brass-rich melody, stately and very South African, is playing and prevailing above a head-tossing grounded bass vamp. We've moved on.

We see that RH Factor is all about playing today's popular music with a jazzman's improvising mentality.

Roy Hargrove
We also see that when Hargrove sings, "One nation under a groove", the groove referred to is black music — black music, as in Soul, R&B and hip hop from the big American cities.

Reggie Washington

But it's not all loud and intense grooving.

There are quiet interludes where bassist Reggie Washington can clearly speak his mind, and there's open space for guitarist Todd Parsnow to bend a worrying blues into Jimi Hendrix territory — all before the music gets social again and Hargrove rushes into the group swinging, riffing his way into long held mid-tones until he's gradually swallowed up in a swarming hallucination of sound.

Stop. Silence.

The two drummers, Willie Jones III and Jason Thomas, start thrashing the beat of this last hurtling tune, as Hargrove's wah-wah trumpet works its way down the tune to chase his own voodoo down.

The audience is very happy.

Now, I don't know if this is really 'the future sound' — who knows that? — but I can say it's very much 'now.'

We welcome your comments and feedback
David Fujino
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Roger Humbert
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