Roy Hargrove

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Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove Quintet (ZMF 2018) IMGP7150.jpg
Background information
Birth nameRoy Anthony Hargrove
Born(1969-10-16)October 16, 1969
Waco, Texas, U.S.
DiedNovember 2, 2018(2018-11-02) (aged 49)
New York City, U.S.
Genres Jazz, Latin jazz, M-Base, soul
Occupation(s)Musician, band leader, composer
Instrument(s)Trumpet, flugelhorn, vocals
Years active1987–2018
Formerly of
  • The Roy Hargrove Quintet
  • The Roy Hargrove Big Band
  • Roy Hargrove’s Crisol
  • The Jazz Futures
  • The Jazz Networks
  • The RH Factor
  • Soulquarians

Roy Anthony Hargrove (October 16, 1969 – November 2, 2018) was an American jazz musician and composer whose principal instruments were the trumpet and flugelhorn. He achieved worldwide acclaim after winning two Grammy Awards for differing styles of jazz in 1998 and 2002. Hargrove primarily played in the hard bop style for the majority of his albums, but also had a penchant for genre-crossing exploration and collaboration with a variety of hip hop, soul, R&B and alternative rock artists. [1] As Hargrove told one reporter, "I've been around all kinds of musicians, and if a cat can play, a cat can play. If it's gospel, funk, R&B, jazz or hip-hop, if it's something that gets in your ear and it's good, that's what matters." [2]



Hargrove was born in Waco, Texas, to Roy Allan Hargrove and Jacklyn Hargrove. [3] [4] [5] When he was 9, his family moved to Dallas, Texas. [4] He took lessons at school initially on cornet before turning to trumpet. He was discovered by Wynton Marsalis when Marsalis visited the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. One of his most profound early influences was a visit to his junior high school by saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman, who performed as a sideman in Ray Charles's Band. [6] Hargrove's junior high music teacher, Dean Hill, whom Hargrove called his “musical father,” taught him to improvise and solo. [7] Hargrove credited trumpeter Freddie Hubbard as having the greatest influence on his sound. [8]

Hargrove spent a year (19881989) studying at Boston's Berklee College of Music but could more often be found playing in New York City jam sessions. He transferred to the New School in New York. [9] His first studio recording there was with saxophonist Bobby Watson for Watson's album No Question About It. Shortly thereafter, Hargrove recorded with the band Superblue featuring Watson, Mulgrew Miller, Frank Lacy, Don Sickler and Kenny Washington. [10]

In 1990, Hargrove released his debut solo album, Diamond in the Rough, on the Novus/RCA label. [11] This album, and the three succeeding recordings Hargrove made for Novus with his quintet, were among the most commercially successful jazz recordings of the early 1990s and made him one of jazz's in-demand players. [12]

As a side project to his solo and quintet recordings, Hargrove also was the leader of The Jazz Networks, an ensemble of American and Japanese musicians which released 5 albums between 1992 and 1996 and featured other notable jazz artists, including Antonio Hart, Rodney Whitaker and Joshua Redman. [13] (These albums were originally released only in Japan and Europe, but after Hargrove's death, his estate arranged for release on streaming platforms in the U.S.) [14]

Hargrove topped the category "Rising Star–Trumpet" in the DownBeat Critics Poll in 1991, 1992 and 1993. [15] During this time in his early career, Hargrove was known as one of the “Young Lions,” a group of rising jazz musicians — including, among others, Marcus Roberts, Mark Whitfield and Christian McBride — who, embracing the foundations of jazz, played principally bebop, hard bop and the Great American Songbook standards. [16] Hargrove, along with other of the "Young Lions," formed an all-star band in 1991 called The Jazz Futures, which released one critically acclaimed album Live in Concert before going their separate ways. [17]

In 1993, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra commissioned Hargrove to compose an original jazz suite, and he premiered The Love Suite: In Mahogany at Lincoln Center with his sextet that year. [18]

In 1994, Hargrove moved to Verve and recorded With the Tenors of Our Time , with Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Johnny Griffin, Joshua Redman, and Branford Marsalis. [19] He followed with Family in 1995, and then experimented with a trio format that same year on the album Parker's Mood, with bassist Christian McBride and pianist Stephen Scott. [20] [21] The Penguin Jazz Guide identifies Parker's Mood as one of the “1001 Best Albums” in the history of the genre. [22]

In 1995, Hargrove first assembled the Roy Hargrove Big Band to perform at the Panasonic Jazz Festival in New York. The band would go on to perform worldwide and feature big band arrangements of Hargrove's own compositions as well as his favorite songs by respected contemporaries. [23]

Hargrove won the Grammy Award for Best Latin Jazz Album in 1998 for Habana with Crisol, an Afro-Cuban band that he founded. [5] He won his second Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2002 for Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall with co-leaders Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker. Hargrove was nominated for four other Grammy Awards during his career. [24]

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Hargrove was also a member of the Soulquarians, a collective of experimental jazz, hip hop and soul artists that included Questlove, D’Angelo, Common and others. [25]

In 2000, Hargrove added jazz and funk-influenced horns in support of D'Angelo on his Grammy-winning album Voodoo . [26] Hargrove also performed the music of Louis Armstrong in Roz Nixon's musical production "Dedicated To Louis Armstrong" as part of the Verizon Jazz Festival. In 2002, he collaborated with D'Angelo and Macy Gray, the Soultronics, and Nile Rodgers, on two tracks for Red Hot & Riot , a compilation album in tribute to the music of afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. He acted as sideman for jazz pianist Shirley Horn and spoken-word artist Common on the album Like Water for Chocolate and in 2002 with singer Erykah Badu on Worldwide Underground . [27]

From 2003 to 2006, Hargrove released three albums as the leader of The RH Factor, a group that blended jazz, soul, hip hop and funk idioms. [28] The band's debut album, Hard Groove, was hailed as "genre-busting" by critics and ushered in a new era of hip hop-accented jazz. The band's second album, "Strength," was nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary Jazz Album." [29]

After signing with Universal/EmArcy in 2008, Hargrove released a quintet album, "Earfood," which Jazziz selected as one of the 5 “essential albums” of that year. [30] He then followed in 2009 with "Emergence," recorded with the Roy Hargrove Big Band; he received a Grammy nomination for "Best Improvised Jazz Solo" for his performance on the track "Ms. Garvey, Ms. Garvey" on that album. [31] In 2010, Hargrove released "Live at the New Morning," a DVD of an intimate club performance with his quintet in Paris. [32] Thereafter, until his death in 2018, Hargrove appeared as a sideman on recordings by Jimmy Cobb, Roy Haynes, Cyrille Aimée, The 1975, D’Angelo and others. [33]

Hargrove won the trumpet category in the 2019 DownBeat Readers’ Poll. [34]

In addition to the accolades he garnered on trumpet, music critics also praised Hargrove's tone on flugelhorn and gifted ways with a ballad. As the Chicago Tribune observed in 2010, "it's Hargrove's ballad playing that tends to win hearts, which is what happened every time he picked up his flugelhorn. We've been hearing Hargrove spin silk on this instrument for a couple of decades now, yet one still marvels at the poetry of his tone, the incredible slowness of his vibrato and the arching lyricism of his phrases." [35] [36] [37]

Over his 30-year career, Hargrove composed and recorded several original compositions, one of which, "Strasbourg-St. Denis", has been characterized as reaching the status of a jazz standard. [38] [39] [40]

In July 2021, nearly three years after his death, Hargrove's estate released via Resonance Records the double-album In Harmony, a live duet recording made in 2006 and 2007 with pianist Mulgrew Miller. [41] Slate selected In Harmony as one of the best jazz albums of 2021. [42] The Académie du Jazz awarded In Harmony its prize for "Best Reissue or Best Unpublished" album of 2021. [43]

Hargrove was posthumously elected to the DownBeat Magazine "Jazz Hall of Fame" in November 2021. [44]

In June 2022, the documentary Hargrove, filmed during the final year of his life, debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival. [45] Hargrove's estate issued a statement objecting to the film as not what he had envisioned when agreeing to participate. [46]

Personal life and death

A quiet and retiring person in life, Hargrove struggled with kidney failure. [47] He died at the age of 49 of cardiac arrest brought on by kidney disease on November 2, 2018, while hospitalized in New Jersey. According to his long-time manager, Larry Clothier, Hargrove had been on dialysis for the last 14 years of his life. [4] He is survived by his wife, Aida Brandes-Hargrove, and daughter, Kamala Hargrove, who in 2020 launched the company Roy Hargrove Legacy LLC to preserve and extend his legacy. [48] In 2022, Roy Hargrove Legacy re-launched the Roy Hargrove Big Band, which gives live performances featuring original band members and other musicians who supported Hargrove in his various ensembles. [49]


As leader/co-leader

Posthumous release

As member


Manhattan Projects
With Carl Allen, Donald Brown, Ira Coleman and Kenny Garrett

Jazz Futures
With Antonio Hart, Benny Green, Carl Allen, Christian McBride, Mark Whitfield, Marlon Jordan, Tim Warfield

The Jazz Networks

As sideman

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