It’s moments like this where I absolutely love being involved in music journalism. After passing through a hefty workload at the 9-to-5, I was invited to attend Keyon Harrold‘s debut residency at the famed Blue Note jazz club in New York City. Bringing his euphorically blended grooves to this legendary space brought out hundreds who were waiting in the wings to see Keyon and company get down.
Twenty minutes into the set and they had the audience’s ear drooling. When keyboardist Shedrick Mitchell jumped into his solo during “The Mugician” — Keyon stood tall like a proud brother seeing his sibling get busy in front of a sold out stadium. As a master of all he surveyed, Keyon allowed his players to intensify the song. Legendary drummer, Chris “Daddy” Dave, showcased his impressive syncopation skills while keeping pace with bassist Burniss Travis. Setting the table for Keyon to go into his solo on “The Mugician,” which was fueled by his explosive flavor of notes and riffs.
With fingers flying at an insane, yet controlled rate, Keyon looked ferocious like an uncontrollable storm of beauty and beats that threatened to make the even the coolest customer at the Blue Note hop up out their seat and dance a jig. After transitioning into “Spanish Key,” the Ferguson, St. Louis native flipped Louis Armstrong‘s “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” and added some guttural peaks and valleys using his talented trumpet. Throughout all of this, guitarist Nir Felder kept up with the crew and even challenged Keyon as they went back and forth during “Spanish Key”.
Together, they almost touched heaven’s gate with the sounds they were producing.
Taking it back to the essence of hip-hop meets jazz meets soul, Keyon Harrold showed why he is one of the most melodious cats in the game doing it today. Sprinkling in hints of J. Dilla with some doubly-delicious flavor, Keyon took a second out to properly introduce his band to the Blue Note audience before going into “Her Beauty Through My Eyes,” a single released back in 2014. To put it plainly, the absolutely spectacular cut had all of the single ladies sitting at attention. That smooth groove, which was meant to set the mood, enabled all of us to sit back, close our eyes and imagine a dream love dancing to this song in a way that lovers do. Shedrick Mitchell really adds richness and texture to “Her Beauty,” while Keyon followed it up with the waa-waa-wooing horn. With sustained sensuality produced by Keyon and his merry players, it was made easy for this writer to go home lucky-ton.
I have to make sure to send them my gratitude.