It might be tempting to dismiss trumpeter Roy Hargrove as another young lion with a roar bigger than his bite or as a conservative musician leery of testing hard-bop boundaries. But both assertions would be wrong. When this 25-year-old Texas native was discovered five years ago by Wynton Marsalis his technique dazzled critics, and his most recent effort, last year's superb The Tenors of Our Time (Verve), proves he's only getting better with age. Under the tutelage of Sonny Rollins and Jackie McLean he's become a disciplined leader in his own right, forging a bold hard-bop strain that seamlessly combines impeccable chops and a stunning lyricism. It's all inside the tradition, of course, but the only other trumpeter his age who stalks the jazz mainstream with more finesse is New Orleans native Nicholas Payton. On ballads Hargrove exudes a gorgeous sensitivity, his remarkable tone fluttering masterfully through pretty embellishments, while on harder-swinging material he manages a restrained swagger. There are more interesting trumpeters out there, but in terms of contemporary hard bop few, if any, of his generation are better. He leads a terrific quintet that includes saxophonist Ron Blake, a Chicago native, pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Rodney Whittaker, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Friday, 8 PM, Coronet Theatre, 817 Chicago, Evanston; 708-733-0030 or 559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/James Minchin.