Jazz is best served live. If it’s raw, even better.
I always knew that and that’s how I usually like it but I didn’t know to what extent until Roy (Hargrove) passed.
I just couldn’t (still can’t) get over the fact that I would never hear Roy play live; never to experience the joy and excitement Roy sparked every time he put his mouth to the horn. It’s inexplicable and dependable and addictive and singular and rare. That feeling of something swelling in the room. It is intimate and communal all at the same time and it feels like there is just me and the music in the world but then I am connected to something fundamental. My head bopping. My grin so wide. And my heart is full. Full with good stuff. That joyful liveliness that makes me so glad to be there. It just felt good. Like first gulp of water after a workout. Like slumping onto a clean and warm bed at the end of a long day. Like an embrace from an absolute favorite person. I know that it is gonna feel good and it always does and it never fails. That’s how it was to hear Roy Hargrove live.
That feeling cannot be found in any of Roy’s recordings. Yes, he had some really good albums and I enjoy listening to them (especially now) but nothing compares to Roy in the flesh. I can’t find that thing on any recordings, thing that vibrates the clubs and concert halls and made us all soar. Roy did that. He commanded all of us with his horn and his energy and we were happy to oblige. So much is missing in the recordings and videos and whatever. The thing that makes music shimmer and dance. You can’t feel that. Recorded version of Roy just makes me remember and trace the memories of how he lifted us. It’s just not quite. Compare to the live concerts, recordings are like shadows. If someone comes to Roy anew at this point, s/he will never experience him live, which is almost like you don’t experience him at all. If you ever heard him live, you know exactly what I’m talking about.