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Album Review

Keyon Harrold comes to jazz and pop from his home in St. Louis, and at age 28 presents his debut recording of straight-ahead modern mainstream music in the typical Criss Cross label tradition. He's not carved in the mold of hometown icon Miles Davis, but has some of the bold technique of Freddie Hubbard and fluidity of Lee Morgan, while stylistically within the neo-bop range of Wynton Marsalis or Tom Harrell. Harrold has played with the Count Basie and Roy Hargrove big bands and as a sideman with Billy Harper, and has worked with Jay-Z, Beyoncé Knowles, and Snoop Dogg, among others, so he knows the twentysomething audience as well as grown-up purist jazz listeners. Brothers Marcus Strickland (saxes) and E.J. Strickland (drums) support Harrold, along with the fabulous young pianist Danny Grissett and bassist Derzon Douglas. As you'd expect, Harrold is an accomplished player with both youth and experience on his side, but also uses different arenas of modern jazz as a composer. His opener, "TMF Nuttz," is a Marsalis-type angular bop-strewn swinger powered by Grissett's two-fisted chords and a ripe solo by the brassman, and features Harrold's mentor, fellow trumpeter Charles Tolliver. The chunkier melody of "The Awakening" takes into account a blues aspect that identifies Harrell's pure tuneful sound, while an atypical version of Horace Silver's "Peace" is stewed in a light Brazilian broth with guitarist Jeremy Most added on in an interpretation quite different from the pensive, balladic original. Grissett is fond of switching to the electric Fender Rhodes piano, adding more of a retro feel to the funky boogaloo strains of "Shirley's Blues" and the 4/4 bounce during "Hip Hop Joint," with Harrold's muted horn alongside Marcus Strickland's solid tenor sax. In reference to his deep St. Louis gospel roots, "Amazing Grace"/"Lord, My God" is fairly typical in the main, but Marcus Strickland's soprano sax adds brighter color to the combo piece. These are all very good and well for what one might expect, but "Sudden Inspiration" stands out in its easy swing stance offset by staggered phrasings that jump out, where "Keyon Beyond" more perfectly envisions the duality of clockwork beats with a hip-hop sway that made Ahmad Jamal's "Poinciana" a seminal reference point for current music in the urban collective. Certainly this is a credible first effort, as Harrold only scratches the surface of his potential, and though somewhat derivative of past predecessors, it bodes well for his bright future alongside Jeremy Pelt, Sean Jones, and Ambrose Akinmusire as the leading jazz trumpet players of a new generation. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

some new jazz with an old feel

its hard to find a musician now a days with an old spirit and a new concept and sound, which is what in the old days made greats.
that is what keyon harrold is doing in this record "a young trumpeter with the concept off a jazz master"
he's also killing on the 2 last charles tolliver albums and the billy harper jazz volume 2 and to top it off his solo on the pop song playing possum on maxwells latest cd makes all the listeners get to their feet
hope to see him perfoming in the new york area soon

Wooooo Weeeee

I can not stop listening to Shirley's Blues. Keyon Harrold is phenomenal, simply and purely. This album is a must.

Introducing Keyon Harrold, Keyon Harrold
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  • $7.92
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Nov 02, 2009

Customer Ratings