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An untimely lost legend with a huge legacy: Roy Hargrove

Blog
An untimely lost legend with a huge legacy: Roy Hargrove

24.12.2018

Text: Cem Kayıran
Illustration: Saydan Akşit
Translation: Yetkin Nural

Roy Hargrove, a legend who left his mark on the recent jazz history as well as every project he was a part of, passed away at the early age of 49, leaving a remarkable legacy behind.

Legendary musician Wynton Marsalis played an important role in the early beginnings of Roy Hargrove’s career, whose interest in trumpet started in Texas where he spent his childhood. During a visit to the high school that Hargrove attended in Dallas, Marsalis caught a performance by 17-year-old musician and he was deeply impressed. After gaining some experience at Marsalis’ orchestra as well as gigs in other bands, Hargrove left Texas for a year of education at the prestigious Berklee before finally moving to New York and becoming one of the most popular studio musicians of the Big Apple’s jazz scene.

Releasing his debut album from Novus label at the early age of 20, Hargrove shared the stage with names such as Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean and Frank Morgan, besides the frequent live performances he gave with his own orchestra. The talented musician spent the 90’s releasing numerous acclaimed records from Norvus and Verve with various projects, receiving high praise for his unique take on hard-bop, and finally adding a Grammy to his award collection with the conceptual Afro-Cuban jazz album Habana in 1998.

During 2000’s Hargrove continued to impress jazz circles with his records from Verve label. After Emergence (2009) album that was recorded with a 19-piece big band orchestra, he stopped releasing solo records, shifting his focus to various collaborations. Hargrove’s habit of expanding his sound with different aesthetics and approaches led to numerous collaborations with R&B artists such as D’Angelo ve Erykah Badu. Other names that the legendary trumpeter worked with include Marcus Miller, Jimmy Cobb, John Mayer and Natalie Cole. The last album that featured his name was British pop rock band 1975’s last record, A Brief Inquiry Inyo Online Relationships, in which he played the trumpet for the song ‘‘Sincerity Is Scary’’. The album was released a month after his passing.

Hargrove passed away due to a kidney failure that he was struggling with for some time, but the work he left behind in his short, 49 years long life will keep on inspiring generations for a long time to come. We leave you with Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea’s mourning words on one of the most prolific and talented artists of his time:

“Roy Hargrove has left us. I mourn his passing, with a massive appreciation. All those beautiful soaring, warm and effortless solos that left me in awe… Man he was my favourite trumpet player on the earth.”

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