Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove died Saturday, November 3, 2018, at the age of 49. In this profile originally broadcast on “Sunday Morning” September 8, 1991, Hargrove, then 21, talked with correspondent Billy Taylor about maturing as an artist. Taylor also spoke with musician Wynton Marsalis, a mentor of Hargrove’s; and with George Wein, who brought Hargrove into a new group called The Jazz Futures, which toured music festivals around the country.
According to npr.org, the cause was cardiac arrest, according to his longtime manager, Larry Clothier. Hargrove had been admitted to the hospital for reasons related to kidney function.
A briskly assertive soloist with a tone that could evoke either burnished steel or a soft, golden glow, Hargrove was a galvanizing presence in jazz over the last 30 years. Dapper and slight of build, he exuded a sly, sparkling charisma onstage, whether he was holding court at a late-night jam session or performing in the grandest concert hall. His capacity for combustion and bravura was equaled by his commitment to lyricism, especially when finessing a ballad on flugehorn.
Roy Anthony Hargrove was born on Oct. 16, 1969, in Waco, Texas, to Roy Allan and Jacklyn Hargrove. He grew up in Dallas, where he attended Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, an arts magnet that also produced Erykah Badu and Norah Jones.
The first jazz musician who made a substantial impression on him was David “Fathead” Newman, a tenor saxophonist best known for his long tenure with Ray Charles; he was a Dallas-area native, and Hargrove heard him at a junior high assembly. Then in 1987, Wynton Marsalis heard a teenaged Hargrove in a clinic at Booker T. Washington and was so impressed that he invited the young trumpeter to sit in on his gig that week in Fort Worth.
Hargrove attended the Berklee College of Music on scholarship for 18 months, before transferring to the New School in New York. In jazz’s close-knit musician community, the meteoric force of his arrival was comparable only to that of Marsalis’ about a decade earlier.
Hargrove was a two-time Grammy winner, in two illustrative categories: best jazz instrumental album in 2003 for Directions in Music, featuring a post-bop supergroup with pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Michael Brecker; and best Latin jazz performance in 1998 for Habana, a groundbreaking Afro-Cuban project recorded in Havana.
Early in his New York experience, in 1992, Hargrove and a business partner, Dale Fitzgerald, signed a lease on a loft in Lower Manhattan with the intention of finding a place for practicing and rehearsals. Three years later, Hargrove and Fitzgerald partnered with Lezlie Harrison to convert it into a nonprofit performance space, The Jazz Gallery. Though it moved to a new location in 2013, The Jazz Gallery continues to be an integral hub for the music. Hargrove continued to play there, just as he never stopped being a late-night fixture at Smalls.
He is survived by his wife, singer and producer Aida Brandes; a daughter from a previous relationship, Kamala Hargrove; his mother, Jacklyn Hargrove; and his younger brother, Brian Hargrove.
For a number of years, Hargrove struggled with substance abuse and its attendant problems. In 2014, he pleaded guilty to cocaine possession in Manhattan criminal court and was sentenced to two days of community service.
But those close to Hargrove say he had recently made great strides with any issues of dependency. “Whatever it was for a lot of years, it was radically, drastically curtailed over the last year or two,” attests Clothier. “He was playing great; he really had himself back together. This last run we did in Europe, it was as good as I heard him play in the last 10 years.”
Hargrove had been scheduled to perform on Saturday, Nov. 3, in a jazz vespers service at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., as part of the TD James Moody Jazz Festival.