Keyon Harrold at the Blue Note

Keyon Harrold
Keyon Harrold at the Blue Note on Wednesday night. Photo courtesy of

When singer Bilal was invited up on stage on Wednesday night at the Blue Note, the whole concept of trumpeter Keyon Harrold‘s show took on a new direction, and a pretty unorthodox and cool one. With a set heavily reminding me of Bitches Brew material, but not at all copying it, here was another example of just how vital, lively, and imaginative the current “jazz” scene is.

Nir Felder on guitar had a few almost psychedelic moments and solos during the set, flavoring the overall sound with his intricate lines. DJ Rashad Ringo Smith helped out garnering the proceedings with beats and snippets of interview material, and bassist Burniss Travis sort of molded the pieces together, sometimes taking unexpected turns, only to going back later to the original flow. And Shedrick Mitchell on piano can play just about everything, he was there displaying some gospel chops as well as taking it way out there on the freer pieces. And Robert Glasper sat in on one tune, a groove ballad where he was a bit more subdued and playing beautiful passages in his inimitable, floating style.

It was drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave who made a lasting impression (again), twisting and twirling the beat, playing behind, off, and somewhere beyond the beat, always surprising, never simply going with the flow, but rather pushing the pieces forward, sideways, and going places. Leader of the pack, trumpeter Keyon Harrold, masterfully graced every piece with his soulful playing, sometimes with a Milesian touch, but also at times reminding me of some Donald Byrd circa The Backbyrds period on certain notes. This was some heavily grooving s**t at the Blue Note and a welcome reminder of how healthy and exuberant the current scene is.

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