1993, Music

Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Time (1993)

This record should really be called the Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Another Time or the Roy Hargrove Quintet with the Tenors of Our Parents’ Time. I didn’t know Wynton had discovered Hargrove; had I, I wouldn’t have borrowed six of his cds from the library. Oops.

At the time of this record’s release, Hargrove was 24. But his guests: Griffin was 65, Henderson was 56, Turrentine was 59; only Brandford and Redman are of Hargrove’s generation. And it’s notable that the elders here are all pretty much pre-Trane tenors. (Yes, they were his contemporaries but they never went the same way Trane did.) So it’s no surprise that the music sounds like it was made in the very late fifties or early sixties. And this even with Branford’s reputation for being the least conservative of the Marsalis clan.

Hargrove is indeed a talented trumpet player. And all the guests are also talented musicians. And most of Hargrove’s band strikes me as good too – Chestnut in particular.

And I understand why a young talented musician would make a record like this. People have been attempting to replicate the sounds of the past since the western music tradition began. (Probably before that actually.) Most “classical” music education is about sounding like the past. And playing with your idols must be a fun experience.
And I understand why some people – the kinds of people who thought Ken Burns’ Jazz was a good documentary, for example – would seek out this kind of music. Nostalgia is a very powerful thing.

But what I don’t understand is why critics – whose job it is, I perceive, to point out that great new music to those of us who do not get to listen to music for a living – would celebrate something like this. Sure, the musicianship is competent. It’s more than competent; it’s excellent. But why should we celebrate people who are so obsessed with sounding like music doesn’t change? I thought jazz was about musicians pushing each other to new creative heights. The Young Lions don’t do that. The Young Lions wish that they could freeze a moment in history and, worse, they throw scorn on anyone who disagrees with them.

This is fine stuff if you think jazz is a dead music that should only be experienced in utter reverence of the tradition (prior to Free, obviously). It’s kind of insulting if you think jazz is a living, breathing beautiful thing that does and should change with each and every new idea brought to it.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.