Monday, November 23, 2009

Roy Hargrove: No Longer A Young Lion

Roy Hargrove (trumpet; b. 1970)

I met Roy Hargrove many years ago before his first record. I thought then that this cat was going to have two albums and never be heard from again. Oh boy, was I an idiot.

Roy Hargrove has had a long career filled with a few minor stops and starts but he has always been true to his craft. After being lumped in with the "Young Lions" tag back in the beginning of the '90s (along with Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Joshua Redman, and others) Roy Hargrove has paved his own path and paid his own dues to become one of the more creative and thoughtful trumpeters of his generation. The "neo-classicism" label that many of the jazz artists were given during the '90s while condescending it was a rejection of the hard boiled fusion that had overtaken jazz during the '70s and '80s.

Roy Hargrove has done small quartet/quintet recordings, big band and hip hop; all to varying degrees but all with integrity. I have seen him live quite a few times over the last twenty years and he continues to impress me. He is not the new Miles Davis or Dizzy Gillespie but he is rising to the occasion with every record. Many of his earlier albums are not available anymore but if you see the compilation The Collected Roy Hargrove (Novus/RCA) I would highly recommend picking it up. It does a fine job of covering his first five albums.

Of his newer material I would recommend two of his most recent albums, the big band effort Emergence (Emarcy) which feels like an artist who has finally found his voice again and last years Earfood (Emarcy) which is a small group recording. Both are excellent examples of his entire career and you can begin to work backwards from there.

Check these two videos; the first is before his first record even came out and the second is from the Earfood release. Wow, if I had known that night I first met him how much of a fan would be now...

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