Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Hargrove, Roy (Anthony)

Trumpeter Roy Hargrove has made an important mark on the post-bop jazz scene since his arrival in New York in the early nineties. His recognizable tone is rooted in bop technique, to which he adds his own interests and inflections to create a signature sound which reaches across musical idioms. His ensembles combine influences from swing, r&b, hip-hop, Cuban music and bop.

Roy Anthony Hargrove Junior was born on October 16th, 1969 in Waco, Texas. He first picked up the trumpet at the age of nine after discovering his father’s cornet. As a teenager, Hargrove, like other musicians of his generation, ingested many musical styles including hip-hop, which came on the scene during his early adolescence.

“When I got to be a teenager, there were underground radio stations in Dallas," Hargrove explained in the December 2004 issue of Jazziz magazine. "They would play all the East Coast rap, and then they would play some of the West Coast and Miami based stuff. My boys would come over to the house and we’d make up dance routines. We’d go to the park and put out cardboard and perform. That’s what we did to pass the time and to stay out of trouble, really.”

Jazz-wise, Hargrove’s cites saxophonist David “Fathead” Newman as an important early influence on his improvisation. Hargrove attended the Arts Magnet High School in Dallas, where he met visiting trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, who encouraged him to pursue a career in jazz. Hargrove subsequently toured Europe with Idris Muhammad, Ronnie Mathews, Frank Morgan, and Walter Booker, while only seventeen years old.

In 1989, Hargrove moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music ,where he worked with many well-known musicians before transferring to the New School in New York. Starting in 1989, Hargrove released a string of bebop and neo-bop albums, starting with the Novus release Diamond in the Rough. This was followed by Public Eye in 1990, Tokyo Sessions in 1991, and The Vibe in 1992. Hargrove’s quintet during the 1990s included, at various times Antonio Hart, Rodney Whitaker, Greg Hutchinson, Marc Curry, and Ron Blake.

Following his departure from Novus, Hargrove signed with Verve Records, who released his album With the Tenors of Our Time in 1994. This album featured the song “Mental Phrasing" with Joshua Redman on tenor saxophone and Cyrus Chestnut on piano.

Also in 1995, the trumpeter released Parker’s Mood, a trio album with bassist Christian McBride and pianist Stephen Scott. Although primarily a bop player at this time, it was not the only style Hargrove explored. In 1996 he performed in Italy as a member of a ten-piece Latin band, and as a result founded his own Latin ensemble called Crisol, which means "crucible" in Spanish.

In January of 1997, the band recorded the album Crisol: Habana, which was released for Verve under Hargrove’s name. The album deeply explored his newfond love of Cuban music. The song “Afrodisia" is a great song from the album which captures the pulse of this group.

Crisol has included, at various times, Chucho Valdes, Russell Malone, and David Sanchez. Hargrove has continued to perform and record in the Latin idiom, and appeared in late 1997 in Havana, Cuba at the Jazz Plaza festival.

In the new millennium, Hargrove created the RH Factor, a group dedicated to the hip-hop and funk influences of his youth. The group's albums include 2003's Hard Groove, 2004’s Strength, and 2006’s Distractions. Also during this time Hargrove toured the world and recorded with pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Michael Brecker as part of the Directions in Music program.

In 2007, Hargrove formed a big band, which has steadily performed both nationally and internationally. The big band has also backed up Q-Tip from the hip=hop group A Tribe Called Quest at several shows in New York City. In 2008, Hargrove's quintet released Ear Food on the Emarcy label, which includes the song “I’m Not So Sure."

Hargrove may have cut his teeth in the bop-tinged atmosphere of the Young Lion jazz scene of the late eighties and early nineties, but he has found success by embracing and exploring many styles of music.

Select Discography

Ear Food (Emarcy, 2008)

Distractions (Verve, 2006)

Strength (Verve, 2004)

Distractions (Verve, 2006)

Nothing Serious (Verve, 2006)

Hard Groove (Verve, 2003)

Moment to Moment (Verve, 2000)

Crisol: Habana (Verve, 1997)

Parker's Mood (Verve, 1995)

Family (Verve, 1995)

With the Tenors of Our Time (Verve, 1994)

Approaching Standards (Jive/Novus, 1994)

Of Kindred Souls (Live) (Novus, 1993)

The Vibe (Novus, 1992)

Tokyo Sessions (Novus, 1991)

Public Eye (Novus, 1990)

Diamond in the Rough (Novus, 1989)

Contributor: Jared Pauley