Remembering Roy

I feel sad writing this next sentence in the past tense. Roy Hargrove was an incredible musician. He died this weekend at only 49. As a trumpeter and musician, he stayed open. He found a way to bring his unique sound and ideas into a range of situations. To me, that’s about the best you can ever hope for. Here are some personal favourite Roy Hargrove moments.

The Jazz Futures played at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1991. I taped this concert from PBS and watched it a hundred times.


Roy Hargrove – trumpet

Benny Green – piano

Christian McBride – bass

Carl Allen – drums

Marlon Jordan – trumpet

Tim Warfield – tenor sax

Antonio Hart – alto sax

Mark Whitfield – guitar

My friend Dan Fortin posted on FB asking who attended the Directions in Music concert at Massey Hall in 2002. It was so fun to read through the comments and see just how many folks were not only there, but who cited it as a formative experience. I bought my ticket late. My seat was near the front on the right side, near Brian Blade. It was also the only time I heard Michael Brecker live before he passed. A transcendent evening. The concert recording we were all at ultimately was released and won a Grammy Award. Roy’s solo on “So What” bears study from anyone interested in the best music.


The first time I heard Roy live was at the Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Willmington, Delware in June of 1997. Around that time, I was listening to a cassette of Parker’s Mood featuring Roy with Stephen Scott and Christian McBride. This was a formative record for me and in hindsight I am embarrassed it did make my Top 40 Before 40. Often I call this tune and am thrilled when the band says “ok.”


Roy’s solo on The Nearness of You was an early solo I lifted. He was a ballad master.

His openness and fluid musicianship are represented on a number of collaborations. I’m fond of this one with D’Angelo, despite the poor video quality.

Several times I heard Roy hold court at Smalls. What are you favourite Roy moments?