Roy Hargrove, a Grammy-winning trumpeter who played alongside jazz legends Herbie Hancock, Sonny Rollins, and Wynton Marsalis and modern R&B and soul acts D’Angelo and Erykah Badu, passed away November 2nd at the age of 49.
Hargrove kept a foot in jazz’s mainstream, but was integral to the early 21st century movement neo-soul, which combined elements of jazz, hip-hop and R&B. He contributed to D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Erykah Badu’s Mam’s Gun and Common’s breakthrough Like Water for Chocolate. Hargrove also formed RH factor to further investigate the dialogue between these genres.
Hargrove won two Grammys for his work in jazz. In 2003, his album Directions in Music won best jazz instrumental album. The album featured pianist Herbie Hancock and saxophonist Michael Brecker. Hargrove also won best Latin jazz performance in 1998 for Habana, an Afro-Cuban project recorded in Havana.
He received his break when Wynton Marsalis heard a teenaged Hargrove in a clinic at Booker T. Washington school in Dallas in 1987. Marsalis was impressed and invited the Hargrove to sit in on his gig that week in Fort Worth.
He next attended Berklee College of Music in Boston for 18 months, before transferring to New York’s New School, where he made swift inroads with the local jazz community, establishing himself as a rising star.
Tributes have been posted online all weekend from Hargroves colleagues and contemporaries, including Questlove, who posted “He is literally the one man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music…Love to the immortal timeless genius that will forever be Roy Hargrove y’all.”
The cause of death was cardiac arrest after he had been admitted to the hospital for reasons related to kidney function. He’s 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.