Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine

May/June 2010: Sonny Rollins

Roy Hargrove: Hard Groove

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Roy Hargrove is one of the most soulful and in-demand trumpet players today. He has played with the who’s who of the jazz world, including Wynton Marsalis, Jimmy Cobb and Herbie Hancock. When I listen to his recordings, I am struck by his immense musicality and deep passion.

Hargrove was born in 1969 in Waco, Texas. His parents bought him a trumpet and started him in lessons at age 10. A few years later, he first encountered David “Fathead” Newman. “Fathead was the first musician I ever saw improvise,” he remembers. “I was about 14 when he came to Oliver Wendell Holmes Middle School in Dallas. My band director, Dean Hill, was friends with Fathead and invited him to the school. Fathead did a baritone solo over our tuba and drum sections playing “Chameleon.” He was making a whole lot of music without reading anything and I became very fascinated with that. It put me on the road to learning how to improvise.”

When Hargrove was a high school student, Wynton Marsalis visited his school and invited Hargrove to play with him at his concert. Over the next three months Hargrove had the opportunity to sit in with Dizzy Gillespie, Herbie Hancock, Freddie Hubbard and Bobby Hutcherson. News of his talent reached the director of the North Sea Jazz Festival who arranged to have him play there, effectively launching the career of the young lion.

Hargrove attended Boston’s Berklee School of Music for one year, but since he spent more time in New York City at jam sessions, he transferred to the New School. He was busy as a sideman for a number of important musicians, and in 1990 he recorded his debut solo album, Diamond in the Rough.

After several albums as a leader, Hargrove created his jazz and hip-hop fusion band RH Factor. Their 2003 album Hard Groove thrust Hargrove into jazz superstardom. He has been one of the most successful musicians at combining these two musical genres.

Roy Hargrove is a must-see musician! His passion and outstanding musicality will touch your soul. And if you come out to the late-night jam session, you might just see him there…

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