We gave it a B+
Three years ago, when this trumpet player was only 17, he held his own at a European jazz festival on a stage full of trumpet masters, including Wynton Marsalis, who accompanied him on piano. Hargrove’s eagerly awaited debut album, though flawed, is an event. It’s a shade overproduced — restrained performances, short solos — but his talent is unmistakable. Unlike most trumpeters of recent years, Hargrove is less attracted to the dark romance of Miles Davis than to the bright optimism of Clifford Brown. Throughout a program that includes jazz classics, fetching originals, and a signature Bing Crosby ballad (”Easy to Remember”), he demonstrates a natural musicality, warm timbre, savvy dynamics, and surprising composure. He receives excellent support from two other wunderkinder: alto saxophonist Antonio Hart, his schoolmate at the Berklee School of Music (especially on ”Whisper Not” and ”Confidentiality,” though Hart’s wobbling pitch on ”Ruby My Dear” should have prompted a retake), and teenage pianist Geoffrey Keezer (who wrote the tricky ”Proclamation” and a Wayne Shorter-style blues, ”Premonition”). A major career is launched here.