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Best of Both Worlds from Roy Hargrove

Jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove is known best for his straight-ahead and bebop jazz albums, recorded with his acoustic quintet. But the versatile musician also has a band called RH Factor which plays a funky mixture of '70s R&B, soul and jazz.

Instead of deciding which direction to go for his latest project, Hargrove recently released two CDs simultaneously -- one by each of his bands. Hargrove grew up in Dallas listening to his father's funk and R&B records, but his biggest musical influence was a high school teacher who introduced him to traditional jazz.

He rejects critics who say he records R&B records simply because jazz records don't make as much money. Being able to play and record both, he says, just feels natural. "I feel this music, that's why I do it," he says about his RH Factor CDs. "It's about as simple as that."

The straight-ahead jazz release, Nothing Serious, features a mix of Latin-tinged, upbeat tunes and soft ballads. Hargrove’s solos on trumpet and flugelhorn are graceful and melodic. On Distractions, the RH Factor CD, the jazz influence is kept to a minimum -- except maybe for the sophisticated chord progressions and tasteful background horn lines provided by Hargrove and fellow Texan David "Fathead" Newman.

Nothing Serious doesn't push the envelope of the post-bop jazz genre, and Distractions doesn't have the hip-hop flavor that other R&B groups are exploring. But what Hargrove and his bands deliver are sweet acoustic jazz and neo-1970s soul, played in easily digestible bite-sized pieces by self-confident master musicians.

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Christian Bordal
Christian Bordal is a Norwegian-American (via Australia) musician, radio producer, and freelance music journalist who contributes regularly to Day to Day. He's very good at making faces and making a fool of himself, and he once impressed his NPR editors with a drunken recitation of the gibberish poem "Jabberwocky." He briefly considered launching a career performing at children's parties, but he finds his own children to be trouble enough. In addition to this list of remarkable professional accomplishments, he is a producer at member station KCRW in Los Angeles.
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