Modern Jazz Giant, Roy Hargrove, Dead at 49

The Soulquarian trumpeter was an unscalable influence on jazz, soul, and hip-hop.

Roy Hargrove, a genius of jazz, a bridge to its r&b and hip-hop futures, has passed away. He was 49-years-old.

According to NPR, Hargrove’s manager, Larry Clothier, confirmed the cause of death was cardiac arrest, though he had been hospitalized for issues related to kidney function and had spent years on dialysis.

A young Texan trumpeter with the pedigree of Dallas’ esteemed Booker T. Washington High School (where he studied with lifetime collaborator, Erykah Badu,) Hargrove showed early flashes of brilliance. Sparks bright enough to be hand-picked for mentorship by Wynton Marsalis. After a short stint at Berklee College of Music, Hargrove submitted himself to New York’s jazz gauntlet. He’d quicky conquer and ultimately cement himself as centerpiece to a renaissance that existed flush at the crossroads of hip-hop and r&b, where sampling was growing to its most sophisticated point yet, revealing a deep reverence for the same jazz giants Hargrove and his generation considered grail.

By the close of the ’90s — now a crucial and Grammy-toting pillar to the Soulquarian sound booming from the Electric Lady institution — Hargrove was a permanent fixture in another vanguard, providing the soulful horn suites to classics of the era, including D’Angelo’s Voodoo, Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun, and Common’s Like Water For Chocolate. He’d go on to earn another Grammy with Herbie Hancock in 2002, and remain the gold standard for jazz and damn-near any genre approaching it with respect and grace. His own group, The RH Factor, defined a subsequent era in jazz across two albums and an EP, as it reached the hip-hop singularity. “The one man horn section” in Questlove’s head, as the drummer put it in a remembrance of his fellow Soulquarian on Instagram earlier today.

Our hearts are with his family.





Zo is a staff writer at Okayplayer where he covers music.

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