We lost a true missionary and minister of our music this past week in Roy Hargrove
We lost a true missionary and minister of our music this past week in Roy Hargrove.
Although he faced an uphill battle with his health over the years, it didn’t deter him or even slow him down from doing what he was undoubtedly born to do – minister through music. That he did until the end.
I first met Roy Hargrove in 1986 at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts in Dallas, Texas. He was a 16 years old phenom playing lead trumpet parts with incredible accuracy and also improvising original solos with gleaming nuggets of melody swimming in harmonic sophistication with generous helpings of downhome blues and soul.
Roy played piano, wrote songs, sang and had a great sense of humor. To top it all off, he possessed an unerring sense of time, in the pocket at any tempo fast or slow. Kids in the school just loved him and were all excited about his great musicianship and about the magic they experienced everyday listening to him and playing with him.
He played with an unusual and infectious combination of fire, honesty and sweet innocence. The first time I heard him it was clear, he was an absolute natural with phenomenal ears, a great memory and tremendous dexterity on our instrument.
He was diligent about his playing technically and emotionally. Playing with an uncommon depth of feeling with a very developed internal sense of that which is unspeakable about the intimate. A Roy ballad was always exquisite.
Just as many in the continuum of our music poured information and aspirations into him, Roy gave selflessly to others, particularly to young musicians. He did everything he could to ensure that the circle would not be broken, at least not on his watch.
His participation on the scene in New York most reminded me of Woody Shaw. Roy continued Woody’s tradition of sitting in all around town and of playing, of encouraging everyone to play (not just with incredible solos), but with knowledge of songs and with advice and with just the feeling of “we are in this together and this is worth doing, and it’s valuable.”
While I am truly saddened as I write this, I am also encouraged by the life and the legacy that Roy left. He meant it.
Rest in Peace Baby.