After the recent passing of saxophonist SONNY FORTUNE, who died on October 25, the jazz community is again in mourning due to the sudden death of fellow American, trumpeter ROY HARGROVE, which was announced yesterday. According to the late musician’s manager, Larry Clothier, he died in New York on Friday night from a cardiac arrest that had arisen as a complication from kidney disease, which he had been battling for several years.
Hargrove was originally from Waco, Texas, and was discovered by another noted horn blower, Wynton Marsalis, subsequently becoming his protégé. A move to New York came after three years at the prestigious Berklee school of music in Boston. He recorded his first album, ‘Diamond In The Rough,’ for BMG’s Novus label, in 1990, and quickly established himself as the trumpet star of his generation. A move to Verve in 1994 saw him collaborate with some of jazz’s old guard – namely saxophonists Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson and Johnny Griffin – on the album, ‘Tenors Of Our Time.’ In 1998, Hargrove picked up the first of two Grammy awards, for the album ‘Havana,’ a Latin Jazz excursion he recorded with his band Crisol.
In 2000, Hargrove recorded one of his most iconic album – ‘Moment To Moment,’ a delectable collection of old school slow ballads where his burnished horn was framed by lush strings. Hargrove continued to record for Verve throughout the 2000s in a variety of musical settings.
As well as playing straight ahead jazz, Hargrove, who had guested as a sideman on albums by neo-soul exponents D’Angelo and Erykah Badu in 2000, put together a group called The RH Factor, whose innovative music straddled the divide between jazz, R&B and hip-hop. They made two albums and an EP together between 2003 and 2006. After that, Hargrove, who was constantly in demand for session work, returned to acoustic jazz. Though his last solo album was released as long ago as 2009, when he cut ‘Emergence’ with a big band, for indie label, Groovin’ High, he continued to be busy working up until his death.
Sonny Rollins, with whom Hargrove recorded as a sideman with back in 1991, offered up a glowing tribute to the trumpeter yesterday on his Facebook page: “Having been fortunate to play with the super, super trumpet stars of the day, I found it inconceivable that this new kid on the block could be in that class, could be that good. He was. He is, and will always be.”
Hargrove is survived by his wife, Aida, daughter Kamala, mother Jacklyn and brother, Brian.
Roy Hargrove October 16, 1969 – November 2, 2018