Habana (1997) by Roy Hargrove’s Crisol

Categories: 1997 and Music.

The man has a voice!
Frankly I was starting to despair that this acclaimed trumpeter was going to spend his entire career living in the Young Lion world of ‘Everything old is wonderful, everything new is terrible’. That’s sure what it sounded like in his early years.
Now, I cannot pretend to have a remotely thorough knowledge of Afro-Cuban / Latin jazz, and so I cannot attest to whether or not this is innovative in any way. (I have my doubts…) But I detect a passion and a willingness to be idiosyncratic that was wholly missing from Hargrove’s earlier recordings here. He seems to have completely immersed himself in Afro-Cuban (and Puerto Rican jazz too, apparently) and it’s a good fit for him. It doesn’t hurt the band is excellent – particularly the pianist, who is apparently a star in Cuba. This is the first time I heard anything from Hargrove where I wasn’t just yawning playing ‘spot the influences’. (I’m sure if I was from Cuba, or if I actually liked Afro-Cuban jazz, it might be a little different.)
This is a very solid and impassioned performance. For once Hargrove sounds like his own man, and not some guy desperate to keep Bop alive against all odds.
PS Both of these saxophonists are way better (well, may more interesting) than Hargrove’s usual saxophonist.

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