Saturday, December 1, 2007
11/26/07, The Dakota: I had heard that Roy Hargrove's current quintet was Hargrove on trumpet and flugelhorn, Ronnie Matthews on piano, Justin Robinson on alto sax, D'Wayne Bruno on bass, and Willie Jones III on drums. He showed up at the Dakota with Gerald Clayton on piano, Robinson on alto sax, Danton Boller on bass, and Montez Coleman on drums. Nobody minded. This is the same quintet he played with earlier this year in Port Townsend, Washington, at their summer jazz festival, so maybe it's the actual current quintet?
My most pressing question going into the evening was not about personnel but hair. Would Roy's dreads be short or long? They were gone. He's wearing braids these days, cornrows. For his first night at the Dakota, they were tucked under a homburg hat with a feather. He also wore a pinstriped suit, an impeccably folded white pocket square, a red tie, and a diamond stud in his ear. It's good to see a jazz musician dress up for the occasion. Put Roy and James Carter on the same stage and it's GQ-worthy.
Sartorially and musically, Hargrove never disappoints. A friend who saw both sets on Tuesday called it "one of the best shows of the year." At the last set on Monday, we heard hard bop and tender ballads, searing high notes from the trumpet and velvet from the flugelhorn, witty call-and-response between Hargrove and Robinson, and gorgeous piano playing from 23-year-old Clayton. I think we also heard some RH factor funk/soul. I wish I'd been in NYC four days later, on 11/30, when Hargrove and his 19-piece big band played with Q-TIP at the Harlem Stage.
Gerald Clayton is the son of bassist John Clayton, co-leader of the Clayton Hamilton Jazz Orchestra (with saxophonist Jeff Clayton and drummer Jeff Hamilton). In 2006, he came in second in the Thelonious Monk Institute Jazz Piano Competition. He plays on several tracks on Diane Krall's most recent recording, From This Moment On.
You can hear quite a lot of Clayton on his Web site. Music will start to play when you land on his home page, and if you click on MUSIC in the menu bar at the top of any page, then click on the word "recordings" when it appears right below it, you'll get to a page with an interview and tracks from a KJAZZ broadcast.
Photo of Roy Hargrove by John Whiting.