Today, let's get re-acquainted with the music of trumpeter Roy Hargrove, who's coming to St. Louis to perform with his quintet starting Wednesday, December 17 through Saturday, December 20 at Jazz at the Bistro.
It's been 15 years since Hargrove, who's now 45, last headlined a St. Louis gig at the old, pre-Jazz St. Louis iteration of the Bistro, though he did turn up here in 2005 at the Pageant as a member of Herbie Hancock's revived Headhunters. He returns this time to fill the spot on the Bistro's schedule left by the death of pianist Joe Sample, who had been booked for these December dates but, sadly, passed away in September.
Discovered by Wynton Marsalis at a workshop while still in high school in Texas, Hargrove was something of a prodigy, cutting his first album as a leader for the Novus label when he was just 20 years old. Though in the first part of his career he played and recorded with a number of well-known jazz elders, including Sonny Rollins, Bobby Watson, Jackie McLean, Oscar Peterson and Jimmy Smith, Hargrove largely avoided the apprenticeship phase many young jazz musicians go through and has been primarily a bandleader almost from day one.
In addition to various iterations of his quintet, Hargrove also has led Crisol, a Latin jazz band that won a Grammy Award for their 1997 album Havana; a big band that works occasionally in Europe; and, perhaps most significantly, RH Factor, a funk/hip-hop flavored ensemble formed at the turn of the century that reflects some of Hargrove's experience working with neo-soul and hip-hop performers such as Erykah Badu, Common, and D'Angelo. All totaled, Hargrove has been the leader on nearly two dozen albums, though the most recent, a big band date called Emergence, came out way back in 2009.
Bringing things into the present day, here we've got a half-dozen clips recorded in various European cities this year with Hargrove's current band, which includes Justin Robinson (alto sax), Sullivan Fortner (piano), Ameen Saleem (bass), and Quincy Phillips (drums).
First up is "I'm Not So Sure," a tune by pianist Cedar Walton that's seen here in a version recorded on July 30 at the Internationaler Jazzsommer Augsburg in Germany.
After the jump, there are versions of two Hargrove originals, "Soulful" and "Strasbourg-St. Denis," from a gig on April 24 at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam.
Next up are "Capetown Ambush," a tune by pianist Donald Brown that the group performed on July 1 at New Morning in Paris, and "Tom Cat," composed by trumpeter Lee Morgan and recorded on August 9 at the Festiwal Jazz na Starówce in Warsaw, Poland.
Last but not least, there's a version of pianist Randy Weston's "Hi-Fly," recorded on July 23 at Gregory's Jazz Club in Rome.