Like a relay runner, Roy Hargrove proudly held the jazz baton

The Artistry of… Roy Hargrove

One of my favourite track and field events is the 4×100 relay. From the original concept originating in ancient Greece, it evolved from the passing along of a message stick sending news by a team of couriers to Olympian greatness and the excitement of the historic Penn Relays dating back to 1895 in Philadelphia — and even my own, short personal track experience. They are an ultimate in team work, precision, and dedication; they challenge all of those elements in one race.

The passing of the stick or baton is like the handing down of the traditions and legacy that is jazz: respecting the work and the run of those before and taking the passed baton and running in stride to take the message and the news ahead.

One of the dynamic jazz trumpeters who truly was a jazz relay runner was the late Roy Hargrove. A creative soul of a player whose sound instantly resonates with the foundations of what came before, and in taking the passed baton took it forward complimented with contemporary flair that, tempered by the past, sparkled with the present and future.

The team has been everyone he played with, led, and inspired. He in so many ways was the next step, the next runner, poised and ready to take the hand-off in mid-stride and deliver the music’s messages and news ever forward.



About The Artistry of…

The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish, made possible with the support of Yamaha Canada.


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