Roy Hargrove 1969-2018

November 14, 2018

American jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove passed away on November 2, 2018 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. According to his manager Larry Clothier, he died from cardiac arrest caused by complications from kidney disease. He was 49. He is survived by his wife Aida, his daughter Kamala, his mother Jacklyn, and his brother Brian.

Born in Waco, Texas on October 16, 1969, Hargrove was discovered at a young age by Wynton Marsalis at the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. Marsalis himself asked to see Hargrove play while he was in Fort Worth, and after seeing Hargrove live, Marsalis asked him to join him to perform at an area concert.

From 1988 to 1989, he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston, but he quickly transferred to the New School in New York. The move was a major stepping stone for Hargrove, as he would go on to record with saxophonist Bobby Watson, and later, Superblue featuring Watson, Mulgrew Miller, and Kenny Washington.

He first solo album, Diamond in the Rough, came in 1990, but he was on a contract with Verve by 1994, where he recorded With the Tenors of Our Time, with Joe Henderson, Stanley Turrentine, Johnny Griffin, Joshua Redman, and Branford Marsalis. He also founded the Jazz Gallery, a still-operating venue in New York, with vocalist Lezlie Harrison and  organizer Dale Fitzgerald in 1995.

Hargrove netted his first Grammy award in 1998 for Habana, winning the Grammy for Best Latin Jazz Album with his Afro-Cuban band Cristol. His second Grammy came in 2002, winning Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2002 for Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall. Both Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker were co-leaders on the album.

He also recorded three albums with the ensemble The RH Factor throughout the 2000s and formed Voodoo with the singer D’Angelo. The number of recordings and collaborations throughout his career is staggering; he recorded over 20 albums as a leader and appears as a sideman on more than 50 albums, the most recent of which was Johnny O’Neal’s 2017 record, In The Moment.

“Over and over, his sound attested to and sanctified his deep love for music. His unselfish timbre covered the waterfront of every musical landscape,” reads a statement from his Facebook page with regards to his passing. “Owning his music, his sound, Roy inspired generations of musicians. He was a game changer.”

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