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Trumpeter Hugh Ragin made this recording in late '98 in a (mostly) quartet format featuring pianist Craig Taborn, bassist Jaribu Shahid, and drummer Bruce Cox. The tunes, all Ragin originals, range from the sauntering bluesy strut of the title track to fast bebop to free jazz, concluding with a Sun Ra-inspired avant garde accompaniment to poetry read by Amiri Baraka. His liner notes establish the suite as a celebration of life in Harlem.
Ragin obviously plays the starring role here: his total mastery of the trumpet allows him to deliver crystal clear melodies, blistering solos, and twisted screaming avant interludes without hesitation. The rest of his band, though competent, certainly does not inspire any great awe. While Ragin's emphasis on composition provides plenty of formal structure, he seems to exercise his creative powers most stunnningly in the free jazz and avant garde settings. In this end of the musical spectrum, Ragin's musical voice is unique and unparalleled.
Track Listing: An Afternoon in Harlem, Not a Moment Too Soon, Braxton's Dues, The Moors of Spain, Wisdom and Overstanding, The Light at the End of the Underground Railroad, When Sun Ra Gets Blue.
Personnel: Hugh Ragin, trumpet; Jaribu Shahid, bass; Bruce Cox, drums; Andrew Cyrille, drums & percussion; Craig Taborn, piano; Amiri Baraka, voice; David Murray, bass clarinet.
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me
I was first exposed to jazz as a middle school band student. A college ensemble passed through and put on a concert for the band students (of which I was one). The level of mastery and musicianship blew me away, intimidated, and inspired me. Try as I might, I was never able to achieve a high enough level of competency to perform at the level I was first and subsequently exposed to. Regardless, I was hooked on jazz and remain so to this day.