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A Love Song Without Words

Roy Hargrove has spent the past few years concentrating so much on his funk band, The RH Factor, that many fans had begun to wonder whether he'd abandoned jazz altogether. Nothing Serious is Hargrove's first straight-ahead jazz disc in seven years, and it's been released simultaneously with The RH Factor's Distractions. Listening to both discs back-to-back reveals an extremely gifted trumpeter and composer with remarkable command.

"Trust," one of Nothing Serious' highlights, delights not so much as a return to form -- Hargrove never lost it -- but as an indication of how he subversively incorporates R&B elements in a traditional jazz setting without making them overly apparent.

Besides incendiary funk, smoldering jazz balladry serves as Hargrove's ideal approach, and on "Trust," his flugelhorn blows a succinct melody with the sensuality of an R&B crooner. He nestles deep inside a spectral arrangement, delivering an evocative, soothing narrative that, without words, conjures the spirit of Donny Hathaway or Stevie Wonder. Because the song doesn't contain any verses, it's easy to imagine its exquisite lyricism as a discreet love letter to jazz itself.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

John Murph
John Murph writes about music and culture and works as a web producer for BETJazz.com. He also contributes regularly to The Washington Post Express, JazzTimes, Down Beat, and JazzWise magazines.