Bassist Robert Hurst has a big round tone that’s acoustically sweet and resoundingly grounded, and although you can hear him on many recordings by Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Diana Krall and Chris Botti (he was also part of The Tonight Show band for more than ten years), he’s been “off the grid” awhile as far as solos recordings go. Two new albums by Hurst (on his own, Bebob Records) seek to mitigate his absence, but it’s something of a surprise that the more recently recorded “Bob Ya Head,” turns out to be a jarring mix of pop, jazz and protest music flavored with hip-hop and African rhythms, in contrast to the solid and far more effective live date with pianist Robert Glasper and drummer Chris Dave.
“Unrehurst, Volume 2” (5 tracks; 69:51 minutes) is an accurate pun since the trio had no rehearsal prior to the recording date at the jazz club, Smoke, in March 2007, but the music – two standards (Cole Porter’s “I Love You” and Monk’s “Monk’s Dream”) and three originals – is sublime. The tunes get extended straight-ahead workouts, several stretching past the 15-minute mark, and it’s a pleasure to hear Glasper dig deeply on his solo for the tune, “Truth Revealed.” In fact, each player fires on all cylinders and there’s not a wasted note or muted moment among them. Unlike the well-intentioned music on “Bob Ya Head,” this live date grabs you with quality and quantity. The easy going closer, “Bob Blues,” is boosted by Hurst’s depth and polish, and while I understand a musician’s prerogative to stretch out in new directions, “Unrehurst” is the fulfilling entrée compared to the iffy dessert that is “Bob Ya Head.” (13 tracks; 46:26 minutes)
Labels: Bebob Records, Chris Dave, Robert Glasper, Robert Hurst