Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Bassist Robert Hurst III
Bob, I planned to drop you a note Saturday, the day after you unveiled your new band the Robert Hurst Group at the Virgil Carr Center, but I was sidetracked. Both sets were awesome, and the students you hired pianist Ian Finklestein and saxophonist Marcus Miller handled themselves like worldly professionals. There not much I can say about your drummer Karriem Riggins. Everybody familiar with his chops knows he’s a superb jazz drummer, and he adds something special to the bands he plays with. So I will focus on Finklestein and Miller.

They are fortunate to be under your watch at such an impressionable age. I predict-given the level of swing both displayed Friday night-they will be huge jazz stars soon. Miller is well on his way. For a little guy he has a heavy sound on the tenor sax a la the late Johnny Griffin. I wonder if Griffin is one of his influences. Bob, I think the Detroit jazz scene is going back to the Detroit Way, the matter in which seasoned jazz musicians mentored up and comers.

Things changed for a while after jazz masters Harold McKinney, Teddy Harris, and Donald Walden died. They had a strict way of mentoring young talent. When the youngsters graduated college, they could further their musical education under the care of those established musicians. However, after they passed away, nobody carried on the mentorship. Instead of serving an apprenticeship, the youngsters formed bands.

Anyway, your sets were wonderful, and people yet to hear your new albums “UNREHURST Volume 2” and “Bob Ya Head”, got a chance to hear selections from those discs, and several cuts from your first record “Robert Hurst Presents, Robert Hurst”. Finklestein and Miller soloed brilliantly as if they wrote “Incognergo,” and “Detroit Red,” two of your well-known originals.

And kicking off the second set with a medley of Thelonious Monk favorites was slick. I wonder if you’re trying to trip up Finklestein and Miller. If so, you failed because both knew the material like a baseball fan knows his favorite player’s career statistics. You tested the youngsters during both sets. They never lost their composure.

Their inexperience show on the ballad “Joyce Faye”, but once they have collected more life experiences they will be better equipped to play ballads. The Robert Hurst Group is a fine new band of up and coming and seasoned pros, and I hope you band plans to stay around for many years.

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