Our Community. Our Nation. Our World.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Grammy-Winning Trumpeter Roy Hargrove Dies At 49

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now we remember Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROY HARGROVE'S "MAMBO FOR ROY")

MARTIN: Hargrove was a galvanizing presence in jazz, an assertive soloist who could invoke both a blazing sound and softer tones.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

His jazz group, The Roy Hargrove Quintet, is known for hard-swinging bebop and the kind of soul-searching ballads many fans would expect from much older musicians.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

GREENE: But he also bridged the gap into hip-hop and R&B, playing with the likes of Erykah Badu and also Common.

MARTIN: Hargrove discovered the trumpet when he was a child snooping through his parents' closet when they weren't home. Here he is in an interview on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz on NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

ROY HARGROVE: So I started trying to blow, and it wouldn't work. I said, OK, well, when my father comes home, I'm going to ask him how to do it. And it took me a minute to actually get the courage to ask him because I didn't want him to know that I had been in the closet looking for it, you know?

GREENE: Clearly, he figured it out. And the depth of his talent was clear very early on. When Hargrove was still a teenager, he caught the attention of the jazz musician Wynton Marsalis, who heard him playing at a jazz clinic. Marsalis was so impressed he invited Hargrove to sit in on his gig.

MARTIN: Hargrove did a brief stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston before landing in the New York City music scene. And it wasn't long after arriving in New York Hargrove began giving back. Together with vocalist Lezlie Harrison and organizer Dale Fitzgerald, he co-founded The Jazz Gallery, a nonprofit performing space for musicians.

GREENE: And later, Hargrove founded his own musical hybrid project called The RH Factor, blending genres like modern jazz, R&B, hip-hop and funk. In response to those who suggested that he had turned to funk because it was more commercially successful than traditional jazz, well, Hargrove said simply...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

HARGROVE: I feel this music. You know, that's why I do it. It's about as simple as that.

GREENE: Hargrove passed away on Friday night in New York City from cardiac arrest. He was 49 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CRAZY RACE")

THE RH FACTOR: (Singing) We about to get up on this thing. The time is now. What you waiting for? Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.