Big Country – No Place Like Home (1991)

FrontCover1No Place Like Home is the fifth studio album by Scottish band Big Country, released in 1991. (see 1991 in music). Its title derives from a quote in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which is referenced by the first track, “We’re Not in Kansas”. Dorothy’s statement was in turn taken from the famous poem and song Home! Sweet Home! by John Howard Payne and Henry Bishop. (by wikipedia)

By 1991, Big Country had decided to ditch the Scottish lilt theme from their sound, seemingly in a quest, not only to evolve from the 1980s music scene, but to make themselves more relevant to the US market. But, as was their mistake with 1988’s `Peace in Our Time’, they chose to work with another unsuitable American producer. Pat Moran had been engineer and producer for big-sounding, overblown prog rock metal outfits like Hawkwind, Budgie, Rush, Lou Gramm (from Foreigner), Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and for Dr Feelgood (though, he had also produced a few albums for Iggy Pop as well). But, for The Bigs, his approach did not seem to work very well.

Big Country’s sound, whether Scottish in flavour or not, is a big sound that needs big production. Curiously, given his evident background, Pat Moran does not deliver a big enough, or at least, the right kind of big sound for their music here.

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It is a shame, because practically all the songs on `No Place like Home’ are actually quite good. Setting the tone with the twang of opening track, `We’re Not in Kansas’, the set (practically to the point of cliché) achieves an almost classically American sound – which is curious, given how critical its lyrics are of the US. Maybe that was meant to be irony! The sound, along with the awkward cover art, is also infused with a certain 60s psychedelia. This quality gives it another interesting dimension, even if it is somewhat under-realized.

Most of the tracks are rocky. But the use of cool effects, such as wah wah pedals, in some of the songs, are not strong enough in the mix to truly make them groove. Others wind up sounding a little ho hum. `We’re not in Kansas’, `Republican Party Reptile’, `The Hostage Speaks’, `Beautiful People’ (featuring banjos) and the reflective closing track, `Into the Fire’ are all great. There is even an echo of the soaring exuberance of their former selves on the excellent `Keep on Dreaming’. But the pièce de résistance is definitely `You, Me and the Truth’, an acid-rock imbued ballad which easily sits among the best songs the band ever wrote and recorded.

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Stuart Adamson continued to try and Americanize his accent on this recording, an error that plagued Big Country’s later recordings to varying degrees. He gets away with it here, but unfortunately, it is just another factor that works against real sonic success for this fifth album. Another seems to be drummer Mark Brzezicki’s change from band member to session muso. All in all, though, it is reasonable. (by B. S. Marlay)

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Personnel:
Stuart Adamson (guitar, vocals)
Tony Butler (bass, vocals)
Bruce Watson (guitar, mandolin)
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Pat Ahern (drums on 15.)
Mark Brzezicki (drums, percussion)
Richie Close (piano)
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background vocals:
Katie Kissoon – Carol Kenyon

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Tracklist:
01. We’re Not In Kansas (Adamson) 6.13
02. Republican Party Reptile (Adamson/Watson) 4.02
03. Dynamite Lady (Adamson) 5.36
04. Keep On Dreaming (Adamson)  4:00
05. Beautiful People (Adamson) 5.34
06. The Hostage Speaks (Adamson/Butler/Watson) 5.52
07. Beat The Devil (Adamson) 4.04
08. Leap Of Faith (Adamson) 5.44
09. You, Me And The Truth (Adamson) 5.19
10. Comes A Time (Adamson) 3.54
11. Ships (Adamson/Watson) 4.01
12. Into The Fire (Adamson/Butler/Watson) 5.54
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13. Heart Of The World (Adamson) 3,46
14. Kiss The Girl Goodbye (Adamson) 5.12
15. Freedom Song (Adamson) 4.33

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More Big Country

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Sister Rosetta Tharpe – The Gospel Truth (1959 – 2018; expanded edition)

LPFrontCover1Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s electric gospel sound was crucial in paving the way for rock and roll, and the late singer and guitarist is finally getting her day at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. She joins this a class of inductees that includes big-name rock bands like Bon Jovi, Dire Straits and The Cars.

Rosetta Tharpe was a huge star in her time. Born in a small town in Arkansas in 1915, she was raised in the Pentecostal church. Tharpe honed her musical talent at tent revivals and churches, but found fame after moving to New York City in the 1930s. Her electric sanctified sound was an overnight sensation in the city’s nightclubs, and secular audiences fell in love with her ecstatic guitar playing.

Her fame faded by the 1960s as a new generation of musicians began to expand upon her style. She found new audiences in Europe, but otherwise settled into a quiet life in Philadelphia. Tharpe died in 1973 at the age of 58. Although her name fell into the shadows of history for decades, her influence did not.

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“She influenced Elvis Presley, she influenced Johnny Cash, she influenced Little Richard,” says Tharpe’s biographer Gayle Wald. “She influenced innumerable other people who we recognize as foundational figures in rock and roll.”

Sister Rosetta Tharpe is set to be posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of fame on May 5. Gayle Wald says the musician would be tickled by the honor.

“When people would ask her about her music,” Wald says, “she would say, ‘Oh, these kids and rock and roll — this is just sped up rhythm and blues. I’ve been doing that forever.’ (by Bruce Warren)

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And here´s a pretty good live recording (Recorded at the Church of God in Christ in New York) and we can hear this great mix between Gospel and Rock N Roll !

Tharpe, a striking woman who performed in evening gowns with an electric guitar, cannot be categorized easily. She sang with the cadence of a blues artist but looked like the gospel queen she was, with a crowning permanent wave and flowing dresses. Second only to her guitar, her face was her most expressive instrument, punctuating her licks and strokes with winks, raised eyebrows and a smile that set everything straight. (by Craig Belcher)

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Personnel:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (vocals, guitar)
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a bunch of unknown session musicians

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Tracklist:
01. The Lord’s Prayer (Traditional) 3.06
02. One Morning Soon (Tharpe) 3.02
03. Things That I Used To Do (And I Don’t Do No More) (Nubin) 2.22
04. It’s Me (Tharpe) 2.42
05. I Have Good News To Bring (Tharpe) 2.59
06. Didn’t It Rain (Tharpe) 2.00
07. Bring Back Those Happy Days (Tharpe) 4.00
08. Saviour Don’t Pass Me By (Tharpe) 3.31
09. Go Get The Water (Tharpe) 2.17
10. Beams Of Heaven (Tharpe) 3.55
11. Steal Away (Tharpe) 3.15
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12. Let It Shine (Tharpe) 1.58
13. Let’s Be Happy (Tharpe) 2.17
14. I’m Gonna Take A Trip On That Old Ship (Tharpe) 2.43
15. Honor (Tharpe) 1.47

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Sister Rosetta Tharpe (March 20, 1915 – October 9, 1973)

Paul Butterfield Blues Band – Keep On Moving (1968)

LPFrontCover1Keep on Moving is the fifth album by the Butterfield Blues Band, which was released in 1969. It continues in the same R&B/soul-influenced horn-driven direction as the band’s 1968 album In My Own Dream. Keep On Moving reached number 102 in the Billboard Top LPs chart. (by wikipedia)

Released in 1969, Keep on Moving was the fifth Elektra release by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. During a four-year span the group’s namesake and leader was the only original member left from their first album in 1965. Morphing in a similar direction as Michael Bloomfield’s Electric Flag, this edition of the Butterfield Blues Band prominently fronted the horn section of David Sanborn on alto sax, Gene Dinwiddie on tenor, and Keith Johnson on trumpet. The band’s direction was full tilt, horn-dominated soul music, first explored on The Resurrection of Pigboy Crabshaw, which took them farther away from the highly regarded gritty blues experimentation of East-West and the duel guitar attack of Michael Bloomfield and Elvin Bishop. This album also signaled the final appearance of AACM and Art Ensemble of Chicago drummer Phillip Wilson, whose Butterfield swan song was the collaboration with Dinwiddie on the hippie gospel track Paul Butterfield01.jpg“Love March,” of which an appropriately disjointed live version appeared on the Woodstock soundtrack album. The difference between Butterfield’s 1965 street survival ode “Born in Chicago” (“My father told me ‘son you’d better get a gun”) and “Love March” (“Sing a glad song, sing all the time”) left fans wondering if the band had become a bit too democratic. However, on cuts like “Losing Hand,” some of the band’s original fervor remains. Butterfield’s harp intertwining with the horn section sounds like a lost Junior Parker outtake and the Jimmy Rogers’ penned “Walking by Myself,” is the closest this band comes to the gutsy Windy City blues of its heyday. The remaining tracks aren’t horrible, but tend to run out of ideas quickly, unfortunately making what may have been decent material (with a little more effort) sound premature.  (by Al Campbell)

In fact, this is a superb album …you can hear hwo Butterfield switched from the tradtional Chicago Blues into a great jazz-rock sound ….

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Personnel:
Paul Butterfield (harmonica, vocals, flute on 01.)
Gene Dinwiddie (saxophone, flute, guitar, keyboards, vocals on 01,. background vocals)
Howard “Buzz” Feiten (guitar, organ, french horn on 01., vocals on 09. + 11, background vocals)
Rod Hicks (bass, cello, vocals on 11,,background vocals)
Ted Harris (piano)
Keith Johnson (trumpet)
Trevor Lawrence (saxophone)
Steve Madaio (trumpet)
David Sanborn (saxophone)
Phillip Wilson (drums, vocals on 01., background vocals)
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Fred Beckmeier (bass on 08. + 11.)
Jerry Ragovoy (piano on 08.)

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Tracklist:
01. Love March (Dinwiddie/Wilson) 2.58
02. No Amount Of Loving (Butterfield) 3.14
03. Morning Sunrise (Butterfield/Wilson) 2.41
04. Losing Hand (Calhoun) 3.35
05. Walking By Myself (Lane) 4.31
06. Except You (Ragovoy) 3.53
07. Love Disease (Dinwiddie) 3.29
08. Where Did My Baby Go (Ragovoy) 4.23
09. All In A Day (Hicks) 2.28
10. So Far So Good (Hicks) 2.28
11. Buddy’s Advice (Feiten) 3.21
12. Keep On Moving (Butterfield) 5.02

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Various - 1980

Paul Butterfield (December 17, 1942 – May 4, 1987)

More Paul Butterfield:

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Jan Akkerman & Claus Ogerman – Aranjuez (1978)

FrontCover1.jpgJan Akkerman and Claus Ogerman’s ‘Aranjuez’ (1978) is defenitely among the most beautiful records in my collection. Claus Ogerman arrangemends for orchestra are moody, mysterious and stylish. He can easily switch between peacefull and darker atmospheres or between bombastic and fragile environments.

All pieces are symphonic with a modern classical music feel with loads of interesting harmonies, making this interesting for progressive rock listeners. All tracks have slow, soulful pace. As a listener of Frank Sinatra’s all ballad string albums (I warmly recommend ‘No Once Cares’ and ‘Only The Lonely’), I almost feel like this could almost have been a Frank Sinatra record – which is not too far from the truth since Claus Ogerman has also written arrangments for the Voice.

The guitar of Jan Akkerman have never sound more emotional engaging, more sensitive and well performed. His jazz guitar with a slight distortion is recorded beautifully and reminds us of moviesoundtracks of dessert and western movies. Great phrasing and storytelling. I wish this side of Akkerman would have been more prominent in his carrere.

Conclusion. Beautiful, relaxing and soulfull music for when the sun is down. Warmly recommended. (by friso)

Claus Ogerman

Claus Ogerman (29 April 1930 – 8 March 2016)

This album from 1978 was kind of an anomalie for Akkerman during a period in his record output that saw albums like Eli (1976), Jan Akkerman (1977), Live in Montreux (1978), Santa Barbara – Live w/ Joachim Kuhn (1981), and Pleasure Point (1982) hit the record bins. His live concerts were usually exposés of funky, jazzy, hard rocking events with plenty of abrasive incendiary guitar work.
He may have wanted to proof that he was also able to sell a romantic semi-classical recording like the million selling Introspection LP’s by ex-Focus band mate Thijs van Leer at that time.
This recording has several things going for it: beautiful intimate yet razor sharp guitar sound, and a jazzy improvisational playing style which suits this music well. All pieces are beautiful, well known classical works or original compositions.
Unfortunately the strings are arranged and recorded with a “thick layer of sugar coating” that makes them sound like a Mantovani record.
I would have loved a more classical music approach of those strings, fronted with that beautiful electric guitar sound of his.
This record may be the pinnacle of easy listening (and that’s a compliment in my book), and is still highly listenable to my ears. (by Garrett de La Forêt sur La Pente)

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Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar)
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Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen (bass)
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Symphony Orchestra conducted by Claus Ogerman –

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Tracklist:
01. Adagio from “Concierto de Aranjuez” (Rodrigo) 5.57
02. Bachianas Brasileiras No.5 (Heitor Villa-Lobos) 5.59
03. Espanoleta (Sanz) 5.19
04. Love Remembered (Akkerman) 3.49
05. Modinha (Villa-Lobos) 5.49
06. Nightwings (Ogerman) 5.04
07. Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte (Ravel) 7.00
08. The Seed Of God (from “Magdalena”) (Heitor Villa-Lobos) 5.52

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Sonny Stitt – The Hard Swing (1959)

FrontCover1.jpgSonny Stitt, who was a master saxophonist on alto, tenor and in his early days, baritone….was one of the most misunderstood musicians in the Jazz spectrum. Throughout his long career he was called an imitator and a copier of Charlie Parker on alto and Lester Young on tenor……he stopped playing the baritone in he early 50’s (he found it tiresome to lug the big horn around from gig to gig) but had he continued somebody would have called him a copier of Serge Chaloff or Gerry Mulligan. Poor Stitt never copied anybody. He grew up with the same influences as Parker and was musically stimulated by many of the same musicians as Bird so natually there were some superficial similarities in their concepts but Stitt was his own man. When he began playing the larger tenor in the late 40’s, Lester Young was an influence to be sure but even the most tin-eared critic would never have confused Stitt and Lester. Sonny developed strong personalities on both horns and the Sonny01few recordings he made on the big baritone showed once again an individual concept beholden to no one.

And here is a rare recording that has never been re-issued domestically, called “The Hard Swing” was done in Los Angeles in 1959 with a band that he had picked up and worked a week with at a club in Watts. Sonny carries the ball on most tunes leaving very little space to his worthy rhythm section. We’ll hear him on alto for the the first seven tunes then on tenor for the final four. Stitt is backed by the obscure and rarely recorded pianist Amos Trice. George Morrow, who had just left Max Roach’s band to settle in L.A. is on bass and the very talented drummer Lenny McBrowne keeps the fires burning. Stitt is in inspired form on this date and the ideas pour out of his horns with fiery intensity…..”The Hard Swing” indeed!!!! (by Gavin Walker)

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Personnel:
Lennie McBrowne (drums)
George Morrow (bass)
Sonny Stitt (saxophone)
Amos Trice (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. I Got Rhythm (Gershwin) 3.12
02. What’s New (Haggart/Burke) 3.45
03. Subito (Stitt) 4.01
04. If I Had You (Campbell/Connelly/Shapiro) 4.11
05. I’ll Remember April (Raye/DePaul/Johnston) 4.40
06. Blues For Lester (Stitt) 4.26
07. After You’ve Gone (Creamer/Layton) 3.50
08. Street Of Dreams (Lewis/Young) 2.43
09. The Way You Look Tonight (Fields/Kern) 5.06
10. Presto (Stitt) 3.30
11. Tune Up (Stitt) 4.05

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Leo Kottke – Greenhouse (1971)

LPFrontCover1Greenhouse is American guitarist Leo Kottke’s fifth album, his second on the Capitol label, released in 1972. It was recorded in three days. From the liner notes: “In the sense that my guitars were once plants, this record’s a greenhouse. There are seven instrumentals and four vocals.” It reached No. 127 on the Billboard 200 chart. (ny wikipedia)

A somewhat less ambitious record than Mudlark, from a recording standpoint, Greenhouse is a true solo record that offers several surprises. Over a third of it is made up of vocal numbers, including two that are absolutely superb. “Tiny Island” may be the best track here, a song by Al Gaylor, inspired by the death of Jimi Hendrix, that offer one of Kottke’s best vocal performances of his whole career. Also worth the price of a ticket are a pair of John Fahey-related tunes (“In Christ There Is No East or West,” “Last Steam Engine Train”) that he puts his own unique spin on, with the latter a true dazzler as an acoustic piece; “From the Cradle to the Grave,” a strangely compelling song in which Kottke’s singing is the backup to his guitar, which has center stage even when he’s singing; and the slow, lyrical bluesy “Louise,” another vocal performance where Kottke excels as a singer; the playful, delightful “The Spanish Entomogolgist,” a medley of children’s songs that includes quotations from “Tumbling Tumbleweeds” and “Jambalaya”; and the gorgeous bluegrass guitar workout on “Owls.” Some of the mastering isn’t quite as clean here as it is on other titles in Kottke’s catalog, but otherwise this is an acceptable reissue of an album that is, perhaps, under appreciated because of its relatively high concentration of vocal numbers by the guitarist. Not all of those come off as well as the two best, but none are complete failures, and his guitar playing even on the weakest of them, “You Don’t Have To Need Me,” is interesting enough to carry the piece. (by Bruce Eder)

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This is my favorite Leo Kottke album–and I own all of them. Why this gets the nod over 6- and 12-String Guitar (which is spectacular!) is that Greenhouse also features Kottke’s warm baritone vocals on four of the album’s eleven tracks.
To listen to Kottke’s vocal choices, you’d think this man is the gloomiest guy on the planet. “Louise” is about the death of a prostitute. Even the song titles (“From the Cradle to the Grave” and “You Don’t Need Me”) ooze pessimism. But these are lovely songs and you need to pick up one of Kottke’s several live albums to discover what a wonderful sense of humor he displays in his between-songs storytelling.
And the seven instrumentals are simply amazing! the album kicks off with “Bean Time” and Kottke’s fingers fly across the fretboard. “The Song of the Swamp” features Kottke’s impeccable slide work. Kottke pays homage to John Fahey on his cover of “In Christ There Is No East or West” and “Last Steam Engine Train.” Kottke says in the liner notes that “‘The Spanish Entomologist’ is a medley made up of a children’s song (‘Playmate’) and my two favorite songs when I was a kid (‘Jambalaya’ and “Tumbling Tumbleweeds’).” Like the rest of the album, it is a joy to listen to. If you don’t already own any Leo Kottke, this is the place to start. ESSENTIAL (by Steve Vrana)

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Personnel:
Leo Kottke (guitar, vocals)
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Steve Gammell (guitar on 11.)

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Tracklist:
01. Bean Time (Kottke) 2:32
02. Tiny Island Al Gaylor 3:46
03. The Song Of The Swamp (Kottke) 3:00
04. In Christ There Is No East Or West (Fahey) 2:12
05. Last Steam Engine Train (Fahey/McGee) 3:00
06. From The Cradle To The Grave (Kottke/Nagle)
07. Louise (Siebel) 4:02
08. The Spanish Entomologist (Traditional) 2:24
09. Owls (Kottke) 5:00
10. You Don’t Have to Need Me (Kottke) 4:37
11. Lost John (Traditional) 2.20

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I wish I had a tiny island floating in the sea
Palm trees don’t get in the way, it’s a tropical ease
And everywhere that I keep my silence, no sound returns to me
Just endless waves at the end of our days, the sighing of the seas

But yesterday’s gone, I don’t know where I come from, hmmm
Wonder where I’m going

The very last time that you saw me off I thought that it was understood
That I’d be gone for a very long time, I might be gone for good
And all that time, all the time, I thought you would never fall
It did not dawn across my mind the time that you lost it all

But yesterday’s gone, I don’t know where I come from, hmmm
Don’t know where I’m going

Sometime’s I feel like a tiny island floating in the sea
Palm trees don’t get in the way, it’s a tropical ease
And everywhere that I keep my silence, no sound returns to me
Just endless waves at the end of our days, the sighing of the seas

But yesterday’s gone, I don’t know where I come from, hmmm
Wonder where I’m going

Roy Hargrove – Diamond In The Rough (1990)

FrontCover1.jpgRoy Hargrove was a hard bop-oriented musician (and acclaimed “Young Lion”) who became one of America’s premier trumpeters during the late ’80s and beyond. A fine, straight-ahead player who spent his childhood years in Texas, Hargrove met trumpet virtuoso Wynton Marsalis in 1987, when the latter musician visited Hargrove’s high school in Dallas. Impressed with the student’s sound, Marsalis allowed Hargrove to sit in with his band and helped him secure additional work with major players, including Bobby Watson, Ricky Ford, Carl Allen, and the group Superblue. Hargrove attended Berklee for one (1988-1989) before decamping to New York City, where his studio career took flight.

In 1990, the young Hargrove (he was only 20 at the time) released his first of five recordings for Novus. He often toured with his own group, which for several years including Antonio Hart. In addition to Novus, Hargrove also recorded for Verve and served as a sideman with quite a few notable figures, including Sonny Rollins, James Clay, Frank Morgan, and Jackie McLean, and the ensemble Jazz Futures. His Verve album roster includes 1995’s Family and Parker’s Mood. Habana (a Grammy-winning album of Afro-Cuban music) and Moment to Moment followed at the end of the decade. Hargrove also went on to contribute to well-received R&B albums by Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, but he also remained indebted to hard bop with such albums as 2008’s Earfood. A year later, Hargrove returned with his 19-member big band on Emergence. Sadly, Hargrove died in November 2018 at the young age of 49; he had been on dialysis for well over a decade and died from cardiac arrest associated with his kidney disease.

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Trumpeter Roy Hargrove’s debut as a leader found him occasionally recalling Freddie Hubbard but already sounding fairly original in the hard bop genre. On a quartet version of “Easy To Remember,” Hargrove shows restraint and maturity in his lyrical ballad statement while featuring his strong bop chops on most of the other selections. Among the many other up-and-coming voices heard on this 1989 set are pianist Geoffrey Keezer (who contributes three originals and shows what he had picked up from McCoy Tyner), the fluid altoist Antonio Hart and drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr. Tenor-saxophonist Ralph Moore, pianist John Hicks and drummer Al Foster are also in the notable supporting cast. The one fault to the CD is that the performances and solos are often a little too brief, with all but “Whisper Not” in the 4-6 minute range. But for a debut, Roy Hargrove can still be proud of Diamond In The Rough. (by Scott Yanow)

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Personnel:
Scott Colley (bass)
Al Foster (drums)
Roy Hargrove (trumpet)
Antonio Hart (saxophone)
John Hicks (piano)
Ralph Moore (saxophone)
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Charles Fambrough (bass on 01., 05., 07., 09. + 10.)
Geoffrey Keezer (piano 01., 05., 07., 09. + 10.)
Ralph Peterson Jr. (drums on 01., 05., 07., 09. + 10.)

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Tracklist:
01. Proclamation (Keezer) 6.12
02. Ruby My Dear (Monk) 6.12
03. A New Joy (Hargrove) 6.03
04. Confidentiality (Hargrove) 4.59
05. Broski (Fambrough) 4.11
06. Whisper Not (Golson) 7.40
07. All Over Again (Hargrove) 5.47
08. Easy To Remember (Rodgers/Hammerstein) 6.06
09. Premonition (Keezer) 5.38
10. BHG (Keezer) 6.04
11. Wee (Best) 4.10

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Roy Anthony Hargrove (October 16, 1969 – November 2, 2018)