Oh, did I forget to mention that Hurst is joined by Branford Marsalis, Jeff "Tain" Watts and Robert Glasper among others? This cat is definitely the real deal as both bassist and composer with his most recent gig as a key player in Sir Paul McCartney's Grammy winning Kisses on the Bottom. Similar to a plethora of artists, Hurst has discovered he is a tremendous cultural by product of his own experience and this is the inspiration he chooses to draw from on this somewhat cathartic release.
Robert Hurst plays with an elegant soul and the precision of surgeon. Some of the highlights, as they are all most too numerous to mention include "Big Queen" and "Little Queen" which pay respect to both his wife and daughter. We move from the more reflective to the adrenalin rush of "Icabad" which is essentially a funked out throw down with no head. Take a look at the title of the tune again and tell me jazz musicians don't have a sense of humor. One of the more creative moments of Bob a palindrome would be "Middle Passage Suite" a keenly melodic three part meditative suite on black history inspired by the novel of the same name by Charles Johnson. "Tigers on Venus" is another tune of significance acknowledging a day when both Tiger Woods and Venus Williams shared major triumph which is certainly a momentous occasion in sports as well as a significant moment for African Americans. Sadly the Woods fall from grace takes a little luster off a stellar tune on mere reflection but throwing stones in glass houses is never a good idea. Williams has had her share of controversy so the irony of the underlying back story certainly should not go unnoticed.
The musical pedigree of Hurst is long and distinguished performing with such luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Jeff "Tain" Watts as well as part of the 1985 young lions from the Blue Note label which featured Kenny Garrett and Ralph Peterson.
Robert Hurst may be the most underrated bassist working today however his incredible contributions as both a leader and a sideman have all led him to an incredibly entertaining, thought provoking if not enlightening release. At times the Marsalis influence is undeniable but Hurst has the talent to push through with an impeccable performance of compositions that are intriguing and highly original.
4 out of 5 stars!
Tracks: 3 For Lawrence; Picked From Nick; Big Queen; Tigers on Venus; Middle Passage: Suites I-III; Little Queen; Indiscreet in da Street; Jamming - a.k.a Ichabad.
Personnel: Robert Hurst: acoustic bass; Branford Marsalis: tenor & soprano saxophones; Jeff "Tain" Watts: drums; Marcus Belgrave: trumpet & flugelhorn; Adam Rudolph: percussion; Bennie Maupin: alto flue, bass clarinet, tenor & soprano saxophones; Robert Glasper: acoustic piano & rhodes.