Roy Anthony Hargrove Jr. was born on October 16, 1969 in Waco, Texas. He manifested signs of musical aptitude as a young kid, and after borrowing an old Bundy cornet, was instructed from the elementary grades through junior high school by teacher Dean Hill. Hargrove soon became familiar with the recordings of Maynard Ferguson, Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard, and in the spring of 1987, he met the man who would galvanize his dreams of a professional career: trumpet superstar Wynton Marsalis.
When Marsalis made an unannounced visit to the Dallas Arts Magnet, Hargrove’s school, he was so impressed by the young man’s musical talents that he immediately arranged special studies for him. He also recommended the assistance of manager-producer Larry Clothier, and as a result Hargrove had the opportunity to travel to New York, and later to Europe and Japan. He soon became a member of the New York Jazz community, and under the supervision of Clothier started recording, as a sideman, with Bobby Watson, Ricky Ford and Carl Allen, as well as with Don Sickler’s Superblue band.
After graduating from High School in June 1988, Roy spent the Summer in Europe, where he had the opportunity to play in several major Festivals, sharing the stage with musical luminaries as Clifford Jordan, Jerome Richardson or Tete Montoliu. In the fall he entered college at the Berklee School of Music on various scholarships, including one from Down Beat magazine, which had selected him as best jazz soloist of the year. In 1990 Roy moved to New York, where he enrolled in the New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music program.
The first recording -for RCA-Novus- of The Roy Hargrove Quintet (featuring altoist Antonio Hart), Diamond on the rough, appeared in 1990, and was followed by Public Eye in 1991. The summer of that year, Roy was featured at many European Festivals, fronting an all star package, The Jazz Futures.
The quintet’s third recording, The vibe, which appeared in the spring of 1992, was highly rated by critics all over the world, and the band toured again Europe, Japan and the US. In 1993 tenor saxophonist Ron Blake replaced Antonio Hart, and with Blake, Gary Bartz and trombonist André Hayward, Roy recorded his fourth -and last- album for RCA-Novus, … Of kindred souls.
In 1993, before he was 25, Hargrove was already a major star in the world of contemporary Jazz, and was signed by Verve – Polygram, a label strongly committed to the promotion of young talent. For Verve Roy recorded The tenors of our time, an ambitious project featuring Johnny Griffin, Stanley Turrentine, Joe Henderson and Joshua Redman which appeared in 1994, Family (with David Newman as a special guest) and Parker’s Mood (a collection of tunes associated with Charlie Parker), both published in 1995
In 1996, Roy’s band appeared in La Habana’s Jazz Festival, where they met pianist Chucho Valdes, of Irakere fame. Roy became fascinated with the talents of Cuban musicians, and decided to form a group featuring both Cuban percussionists, such as Anga, El Negro or Changuito, and African-American Jazz players such as Gary Bartz, Frank Lacy or Russell Malone. The group, known as Crisol (Spanish for melting pot) recorded live at the Orvieto (Italy) Jazz Festival, and the resulting CD, Habana, appeared in the market in 1997 with an imposing success. Crisol toured Europe in the Summer of 1997, and returned to Cuba in the fall of the same year. Habana won a Grammy Award in February 1998.
During the late 1990’s Roy has also been leading The Roy Hargrove Big Band, a large group of young musicians he started out rehearsing a few years ago to work out his talents as a composer and arranger.
Moment to Moment , Roy’s last recorded efford, has appeared in the Spring of 2000. Comprised entirely of ballads, features Hargrove’s quintet and a full string orchestra, arranged by Cedar Walton, Larry Willis and Gil Goldstein, combining to create a classic that is as beautiful as it is transcendent.