Seasoned American trumpeter Keyon Harrold cut his teeth with Chicago rapper Common at the turn of the century, joining him for his tour supporting acclaimed record Like Water For Chocolate. Performing those songs would expose Harrold to the genius of the Soulquarians, the collective comprising D’Angelo, Questlove, Erykah Badu, and J Dilla, who worked with Common on his album. A quarter of a century later, you hear the drip-down effect of that exposure, as the trumpeter’s now fully matured sound bleeds brass, beats, and ambient together in a deep, soulful transmission.
On Foreverland, his third solo album, Harrold maintains his melodious mix while drawing deeper on the fractured psyche of The United States. Title track ‘Foreverland’ feels drenched by a deluge of division, with the featuring Laura Mvula’s mezzo soprano stalked by a cloudy piano chord that’s only broken apart by Harrold’s sharp trumpet blares. ‘Pictures’ is a dirge for union, fueled by Harrold’s mournful notes that sound like one final look at a moribund love before merging with loneliness. Album standout ‘Well Walk Now (Perseverance)’ is a marathonic struggle. Like a wake, it’s pumped full of pathos and feels lighter at the end than at the beginning, simply for what it has let go.
These winding and meditative tracks stacked up against the more poised numbers such as hip-hop inflected opener ‘Find Your Peace’ (which features a philosophical Common) give Foreverland a delicious depth and a very 2024 edge. Loose, tear-stained, but looking forward, Harrold’s record is a perfect entry point for those looking to enter modern jazz and a riveting listen for the already initiated.