A straight-up hard bop player of often stunning ability, Roy Hargrove (RH) needs to play more than straight-up hard bop, and sometimes he embarks on outside projects like The RH Factor for explorations beyond the jazz repertoire. He performs on trumpet and flugelhorn here, with an experimental laboratory that includes a double rhythm section (bassists Reggie Washington and Lenny Stalworth; drummers Jason "JT Thomas and Willie Jones III), guitarist Todd Parsnow, and three keyboard players (Bobby Sparks, Charles McCambell, Renee Neufville), plus David "Fathead Newman as featured saxophone soloist and neo-funk mystery man D'Angelo guest-starring on "Bull***t.
The set begins with the promise of Hargrove's trumpet quicksilver runs through the opening "Distractions (Intro). Then his hot trumpet bounces through the second tune, "Crazy Race ... but these opening glimmers prepare expectations for greatness that the rest of the music just never reveals.
Distractions basically offers two solid pieces: the title track, chaotic yet streamlined modern jazz chopped into four servings as brief as twenty seconds ("Distractions 3 ) and as long as four minutes (the set-ending "4 ); and the track with D'Angelo. The remainder, mainly co-composed by Neufville and featuring her lead vocal, sound like bargain bin Patrice Rushen, limpid music that's not quite jazz or funk.
To be fair, "A Place cops the guitar voicings from Heatwave's classic "Groove Line and scratches them against powerful trumpet blasts; Hargrove opens soft around the edges in a romantic Herb Alpert mood before soaring high and mighty mighty, like Lee Morgan just lettin' it all hang out. Hargrove also finds much inspiration in D'Angelo's bad-ass hip-hop funk groove, singing through his mute just to sound a little edgy, like he was beaming through some magical, time-traveling old-time radio into its thick, rubbery jam.
The fact that he further blows his ass off over the blistering groove of "Distractions 4 more than four minutes, thankfully, of steady rockin' instrumental boilalmost makes the rest of these Distractions more disappointing. The whip-crack sound of the snare drum, its almost ridiculous, sustained fast tempo, and the monumental energy and fever of Hargrove's trumpet are enough to make you wonder, "Where was this guy for the past half hour?
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