By Eric Spelsberg
Van Morrison and Roy Hargrove are two jazz and blues artists so esteemed for their decades of creative accomplishments that the idea of a “critical review” of their work is almost ridiculous.
“The moment you start to judge their music you’re on thin ice and out-to-lunch all at the same time.”
So, to get off to a safe start, both of the CDs described herein are terrific collections of songs you will be able to listen to over and over again for years. Buy them right away.
With Van’s Roll With The Punches you get quintessential Morrison singing great blues backed up by musicians of the highest caliber. Hargrove’s Habana is intriguing in that it spends so much time away from the trumpet.
On Van’s CD one name that really jumped out from the liner notes is guitar deity, Jeff Beck (yes, that JB), and on the songs where he appears he jumps out even more. Beck also gets production credit on the CD.
Being in Van’s band means you operate without a set list. Van expects you to be there when he’s ready to be there and so requires a level of dedication many musicians couldn’t muster. Acoustic guitarist, Dave Keary, has learned hundreds of songs from the big list and plans to learn hundreds more. That’s some work, there.
“There is just so much going on with Roll With The Punches that you almost have to do that when you listen…”
There is just so much going on with Roll With The Punches that you almost have to do that when you listen. Guitar, sax, harp, organ…jab, jab, cross, uppercut. You’ve got to roll with the punches.
Hargrove’s CD, Habana, could just as easily be named Habana with Roy Hargrove as the trumpeter gives his sidemen lots more room than you would normally expect from a jazz star of such repute and reputation.
“Moving from one song to the next is like a well-organized day trip to an exotic locale.”
For instance, the wonderfully adept guitar vamp intro to the CD’s first cut lasts a couple of minutes until Hargrove’s trumpet enters so subtlely you don’t hear it until you realize it’s been there awhile. Moving from one song to the next is like a well-organized day trip to an exotic locale. It’s all different but all the same in a way that keeps you connected to the listening experience.
Until next time, Happy Listening!