Robert Hurst – Unrehurst, Volume 2 (2011)

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by S. Victor Aaron

Robert Hurst is a guy I remember being Wynton Marsalis’ bassist in the late 1980s, before performing in the same capacity for Branford’s Tonight Show band. From there, I don’t recall much. But that’s on me because in reality, Hurst has kept very busy: he’s served as a sideman for everyone from Lou Rawls to Keb’ Mo’ to a steady association with Diana Krall. He’s also scored movies and served as an Associate Professor of Music at University of Michigan.

All of this work has been done at the expense of making many records under his own name but he did a lot of catching up earlier this week with the release of not one but two albums, his first in about ten years. Bob Your Head, a wild mixture of jazz, hip-hop, African and other music forms is one of those, but the focus here is on the other: an acoustic, live straight jazz trio performance called Unrehurst Volume 2. Volume 1 came out in 2001 and featured the young, budding pianist from Houston Robert Glasper, as well as Damion Reid on drums. The second volume again has Glasper on piano, but Chris Dave on drums.

Recorded back in ’07, Glasper had since launched his solo career and created a sensation in the jazz world. His full-bodied approach the piano is perfect for this muscular setting, but he is also a nuanced enough player to make his single note lines hold depth (as in his nice solo on Cole Porter’s extensively reworked “I Love You”). He also contributes a solidly swinging in 3/4, “Truth Revealed,” where the rapport between him and Dave is fantastic. Hurst is very responsive bassist, providing a fat, pulsing bottom that never gets in the way, but rounds out the sound just right. Hurst’s two songs don’t quite measure up to Glasper’s, but are nonetheless effective vehicles for the players to stretch out and create. After all, the title has “Unrehurst” in it and it does because the players didn’t get a chance to prepare for the gig. They had to play even more on their feet and through five extended tracks some strong telepathy pulled them through the session with flying colors.

Unrehurst Volume 2 has fantastic playing, some pretty good songs overall and a consistently high energy level. There’s not much more you can ask for from a live, straight-ahead jazz record.

Purchase: Robert Hurst – Unrehurst Volume 2

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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