String-Driven Thing From Roy Hargrove

Moment to Moment catches Roy Hargrove in a sweet flugelhorn mode, backed on 12 tunes, mostly standards, by a string orchestra. These are all ballads, executed with help from Sherman Irby on alto sax and a rhythm section of pianist Larry Willis, drummer Willie Jones III and Gerald Cannon on bass.

The band has been with the trumpeter for nearly three years, and sounds like it. They listen and respond to each other, and Irby's hard attack and attractively thick sound made him a superior foil for the leader.

Yes, the lush strings from the Monterey Jazz Festival Chamber Orchestra intrude at times on Hargrove's fat, singing tone. And no, this is not an album of charged improvisations. It's a collection of familiar tunes — "You Go to My Head" (RealAudio excerpt), "The Very Thought of You" (RealAudio excerpt), "I Fall in Love Too Easily" — with Hargrove sticking close to the melodies.

He also makes guitarist Pat Metheny's "Always and Forever" sound like a standard, and thus not out of place. Moment to Moment is relaxed and not very challenging, but it's a perfect listen for late-night romancing.

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