HAVING ALREADY attracted the attention of Wynton Marsalis, who has since become his mentor as well as his primary influence, 20-year-old Texas trumpeter Roy Hargrove has assembled an impressive cast of musicians for his bandleader debut recording "Diamond in the Rough," including veteran drummers Al Foster and Ralph Peterson Jr. and pianist John Hicks.
Given his age, it's not surprising that the cast occasionally outshines Hargrove or that the album was so named. Indeed, "Proclamation," one of three pieces written by Hargrove's teenage pianist and collaborator Geoffrey Keezer, is mostly notable for Peterson's tumbling off-kilter rhythms and Keezer's funky improvisation. Likewise, credit for bringing Thelonious Monk's "Ruby My Dear" into soulful focus has to go saxophonist Antonio Hart. Hargrove's contribution sounds merely wistful by comparison.
Still, Hargrove catches his stride soon enough, first on the sunny "A New Joy," one of three appealing tunes he composed for the album, and later on the vibrant "All Over Again." His reading of Rodger and Hammerstein's "Easy to Remember," while not exactly breathtaking, has a certain poignance and charm to it, and the album concludes on a delightfully upbeat and playful note with Foster and Hargrove in perfect sync on the brisk "Wee."