Roy Hargrove, jazz trumpeter, bandleader and collaborator of a wide range of artists, died on Friday night in New York City at the age of 49. According to NPR, Hargrove’s longtime manager Larry Clothier has confirmed that the cause of death was cardiac arrest, which he suffered while being hospitalized for kidney issues he’d dealt with for years.
Hailing from Waco, TX, Hargrove was discovered by jazz trumpet icon Wynton Marsalis when he was still in high school, eventually making his way to a brief stint at Berklee College of Music before immersing himself in the New York jazz scene. A leader of multiple bands like The RH Factor and The Roy Hargrove Quintet, Hargrove was a two-time Grammy winner, receiving the Best Latin Jazz Performance award in 1998 for Habana with his Latin-Jazz outfit Crisol, along with the Best Jazz Instrumental Album award in 2003 for Directions in Music: Live at Massey Hall with a trio featuring Herbie Hancock and Michael Brecker.
Hargrove’s expansive collaborations stretched from jazz titans to more mainstream artists in the hip-hop, R&B and soul spheres. In the year 2000 alone, Hargrove was a part of Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun, D’Angelo’s Voodoo and Common’s Like Water for Chocolate. Hargrove later worked on albums from John Mayer and Angelique Kidjo, along with returning for D’Angelo’s 2015 comeback record Black Messiah.
Several artists have taken to social media to express their sadness and appreciation for Hargrove’s work. On Instagram, Questlove—one of the leaders of the Soulquarians collective that produced all three of those 2000 records—writes, “The Great Roy Hargrove. He is literally the one man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music.” The Roots drummer specifically describes his amazement at Hargrove’s work on Common’s “Cold Blooded” and writes, “I know I’ve spoken in every aspect of Soulquarian era recording techniques but even I can’t properly document how crucial and spot on Roy was with his craft man. We NEVER gave him instructions: just played the song and watched him go… Such a key component. And a beautiful cat man. Love to the immortal timeless genius that will forever be Roy Hargrove y’all.”
Bassist Christian McBride, another Hargrove collaborator, writes on Twitter, “I have no words over the loss of my dear brother of 31 years. We played on a lot of sessions together, traveled a lot of miles together, laughed a lot together, bickered on occasion – and I wouldn’t change our relationship for anything in the world. Bless you, Roy Hargrove.”
New York’s Blue Note jazz club also took to Twitter to bid farewell to the trumpeter, whom the venue hosted numerous times: “A young master and friend gone too soon. Thank you for the music. You will be missed.”