So where to next? Obviously funk, fusion, R&B, and hip-hop, a road fellow 30-something jazz strivers McBride, trumpeter Nicholas Payton, and the slightly older Branford Marsalis (with his Buckshot LeFonque band) have traveled with some success. In Hard Groove, Hargrove delivers a pleasantly accessible disc that's half dance party, half post-bash chill session. It's probably too edgy for smooth jazz radio and may rely a little too much on urban grooves for the likes of mainstream jazz programmers. Their loss. Our gain.
Hargrove, who wrote ten of the album's 13 tracks, as usual delivers some mean horn, making like a siren on the impressionistic "Interlude" with Reggie Washington and Willie Jones III. He also shares fertile improv space with saxophonists Keith Anderson, Jacques Scharz-Bart, Steve Coleman, and various rhythm men; all solo fluently or with jagged edges according to the tune at hand. But as the album title promises, the hard but pliable groove trumps the solos.