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Roy Hargrove's Crisol Brings Afro-Cuban Jazz To The Hiland

By Michael Henningsen

The Spanish word crisol means "crucible" or "melting pot" and couldn't be a more fitting name for trumpeter Roy Hargrove's "tentet." Featuring some of the finest jazz musicians representing three countries--five Cubanos, two Puertorriqueños and three Norteamericanos--Roy Hargrove's Crisol is nothing if not a modern day supergroup.

The band's earliest manifestation dates back to Hargrove's 1996 11-day Cuban visit, where he was dazzled by and performed with renowned Cuban musicians. It was that experience, one that the phenomenal young trumpeter has described as "an education," that inspired Hargrove to record Habana, his latest Afro-Cuban steeped Verve release. Before the year was out, Hargrove had completely immersed himself in the subgenre, touring and recording with these incredible musicians and finally culminating with performances at Italy's Umbria Jazz Festival, which also yielded the recorded material for Habana.

The latest incarnation of Crisol--in addition to bandleader Hargrove on trumpet--features a handful of the giants of Afro-Cuban jazz including pianist Chucho Valdes, acoustic bassists John Benitez and Jorge Reyes, saxophonists David Sanchez and Gary Bartz, trombonist Russell Malone, percussionists Jose Luis Quintana and Michael Diaz and drummer Horacio Hernandez.

For Hargrove, his foray into the Afro-Cuban sound is a deeply personal matter. He is just one of a long line of trumpeters seduced by the sound, following in the footsteps of two of his greatest idols--the legendary Kenny Dorham and Dizzy Gillespie. "Just playing with (these) cats (has) made me realize that every note has to be played like it's your last one," said Hargrove in a recent interview. "It's opened my eyes and made me understand what it's like to really play."

--Michael Henningsen

Roy Hargrove's Crisol will perform Friday, June 13 at the Hiland Theater, the first concert in the New Mexico Jazz Workshop's Hiland Theater Summer Jazz Series. Concert time is 8 p.m. Advance tickets are available from the New Mexico Jazz Workshop (255-9798); $20 orchestra/$15 balcony. Tickets, in limited quantities, will be available at the door for $25.

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