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Roy hargrove
Roy Hargrove
Roy Hargrove

Roy Hargrove
@ the Queen Elizabeth Hall
19 November 2008

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Roy Hargrove was born in Waco, Texas, October 16, 1969. He was surrounded by music from an early age (his father was a musician in the army) but it was his elementary and high school band director, Dean Hill, who sparked his interest in a performing career. Hill would prove to be an important mentor and guide encouraging Hargrove to explore many elements of jazz and various jazz musicians.

Hargrove spent two years at Boston’s prestigious Berklee School of Music (1988 -1990) and attended the New School for Social Research Jazz and Contemporary Music Program in 1990. During this time Hargrove could also be found sitting in on jam sessions with various musicians around New York City clubs.

Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis invited Hargrove to sit in with his group at the Caravan Of Dreams Performing Arts Center in Fort Worth, Texas after listening to his performance at the Dallas Arts Magnet High School. Marsalis would later contribute on Hargrove’s acclaimed 1995 “Family” album.

Hargrove’s debut album “Diamond in the Rough” and three succeeding recordings were among the most commercially successful jazz recordings of the early 1990’s. Hargrove however, would not rest on his laurels and continued honing his craft by performing with jazz luminaries such as saxophonist Sonny Rollins and trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

To date Hargrove has worked, or recorded with the likes of Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock, Branford Marsalis, Joushua Redman, Jackie McLean, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Diana Ross, Rhian Benson, Erikah Badu, D’Angelo, the late Shirley Horn and Kenny Rankin to name a few.

The Roy Hargrove Quintet - Earfood CD Review

“I’ve been doing more touring with RH Factor than my quintet lately. People are turning a deaf ear to jazz. Some of that is the fault of jazz musicians trying too hard to appear to be cerebral. They aren’t having fun playing the music and that’s why people aren’t coming to hear it live anymore….”
Roy Hargrove

The above words by Hargrove have certainly been voiced before, especially by individuals who appreciate the softer side of jazz (smooth jazz) as well as those who just dislike jazz full stop! Such a statement will probably encourage a few jazz musicians and straight-ahead jazz heads wince in disgust (or denial) depending on which side of the fence you reside. However, such straight talking from one as learned as Hargrove does carry greater credence than most.

Hargrove’s rich reflective tone is easy on the ear allowing the listener to become fully immersed within the broad textural range of his trumpet & flugelhorn; this is specifically evident on his breathy interpretation of Kurt Weill & Ogden Nash’s “Speak Low” and Lou Marini’s “Starmaker.” At this point it is important to highlight to straight-ahead jazz heads – Hargrove’s “Earfood” will not be sitting comfortably within the smooth jazz section of any store, online or otherwise.

Hargrove’s compositions fuse many flavours here. The quintet convey the fusion like a family who have shared life, love, and secrets over a fully laden dinner table. Such is the power of this quintet’s sense of natural cohesion.

Hargrove and fellow saxophonist Justin Robinson’s call and response sequencing on the swinging R&B flavoured “Strasbourg / St. Dennis” is reminiscent of the classic Sam Cooke Lou Rawls vocal call and response on “Bring It On Home To Me” (ironically covered by the quintet on a live recording later on in this set). Beneath the surface of “Strasbourg / St. Dennis” (a Hargrove composition) is a strong gospel root that will not be denied. Such is the versatility and openness of Hargrove, he is able to completely fuse such influences with ease.

The Roy Hargrove Quintet has done a tremendous job here in reminding both musicians and listeners alike that jazz ‘can’ be serious fun.

Roy Hargrove – Trumpet & Flugelhorn
Justin Robinson – Alto Sax & Flute
Gerald Clayton – Piano
Danton Boller – Bass
Montez Coleman – Drums

Robin Francis
September 2008
© Michael Valentine Studio

Gerald Clayton

Gerald Clayton

Roy Hargrove Band



Roy Hargrove Quintet - earfood Moment To Moment Nothing Serious Roy Hargrove Quintet - with The Tenors Of Our Time
the RH Factor - Hard Groove the RH Factor - Distractions I Remember Miles


Further Recommended

  Click Terence Blanchard's image see his photograhs and read his biography...

Terence Blanchard (click to go to his page)

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 Go back to the jazz gallery.

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