Saturday, November 24, 2018

2 Sem 2018 - Part Eight

Roger Kellaway Trio
New Jazz Standards Vol.3

By Dan Bilawsky 
Trumpeter Carl Saunders is best known for his contributions to jazz orchestras, having put his mighty horn to good use for Stan Kenton piano, Bill Holman, Maynard Ferguson, Benny Goodman, Gerald Wilson, and numerous other big band leaders of note over the past half-century. Yet his work as a composer may end up being his lasting legacy. Saunders has amassed a considerable body of work—more than three hundred of his tunes appear in a Real Book-style collection titled New Jazz Standards—and he's been showcasing these compositions by handing them off to notable performers for a series of albums for Summit Records. The late Sam Most's final date—also dubbed New Jazz Standards (Summit Records, 2014)—kicked off said project, and trombonist Scott Whitfield took the baton and delivered a second volume of material in 2016. Now, top-notch pianist Roger Kellaway is taking his turn with the Saunders songbook.
Fronting a first-rate trio with bassist Jay Leonhart and drummer Peter Erskine, Kellaway delivers a set that alternately swings and soothes. "Prudence," one of Saunders' better-known compositions, opens the album by cutting against its name. There's nothing cautious about this sunny swinger. Then there's "Dees Blues," a number dedicated to lyricist Michael Dees. Erskine, aligned perfectly with Leonhart's buoyantly shuffling bass, sets that train in motion with a Mel Lewis-worthy feel that perfectly supports Kellaway's excursions, which include some Gene Harris-esque tremolos. The aptly titled "Calming Notion," where Kellaway overdubs a second piano, provides a marked shift in direction, but the laid-back pseudo-bop of "Noodlin" puts the trio back on its cheery track while showcasing Kellaway's remarkable chops and split- handed brilliance.
As the program continues, Kellaway and company deliver more of the same along with a few surprises. Leonhart puts his voice and bow to good use in a humorous blues setting on "Is That Asking Too Much," "Valtzing" calmly bounds along in line with the titular dance, and "Sweetness" proves to be the standout ballad on the set. Add to that a "Hurry Up & Wait" that finds Kellaway and Leonhart syncing up before the trio goes to serious swing town, a solo piano episode of optimistic quietude in "A Verse," and a skulking-turned-cooking blues finale in the form of "Minor Infraction," and then you have a real work of art. But Saunders goes one better, tacking on a balladic bonus track recorded by the trio of Kellaway, bassist Buster Williams and drummer Santo Savino at the 1994 sessions for his first solo album. It may or may not have been necessary, but it's most definitely the cherry on top.
Whether or not these and other Saunders songs will take their place as new jazz standards remains to be seen, but they certainly have merit. And there's plenty more from where these came from: a fourth volume in the series—with guitarist Larry Koonse taking the reins—is already in the works, so we'll be hearing more of Saunders' music in no time.
Track Listing: 
Prudence; Dees Blues; Calming Notion; Noodlin'; Short Sweet: Walking On Air; Is That Asking Too Much; Valtzing; Sweetness; Hurry Up & Wait; A Verse; Minor Infraction; Forever Again.
Roger Kellaway: piano; Jay Leonhart: bass, vocals (7); Peter Erskine: drums.

Denny Zeitlin
Wishing On The Moon

By Dan McClenaghan 
Pianist Denny Zeitlin claimed a spot as a top-tier jazz pianist at the very beginning of his recording career with a sideman slot on flutist Jeremy Steig's Flute Fever (Columbia, 1963), followed by his debut as a leader, Cathexis (Columbia, 1964). After three more excellent sets for Columbia, Zeitlin's career shifted into a smaller label mode, resulting in several high quality but under-recognized albums. Additionally, in 1978 he seized the opportunity to score the orchestral electro-acoustic avant-garde soundtrack to the classic remake of the 1956 science fiction film classic The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
In 2004 Zeitlin began a short, two recordings stint with the MAXJAZZ label that lifted his profile. But it is his association with Sunnyside Records that's been the biggest boost. The pianist boasts a ten album discography at MAXJAZZ, and it includes, along with his uniformly excellent solo piano and piano trio offerings, a return to his Body Snatchers-esque interest in electronic music with three innovative electro-acoustic offerings: Both/And (2013), Riding the Moment (2015), and Expedition 
( 2017).
The disc on the table now is Wishing on the Moon, featuring Zeitlin's long term trio with Buster Williams on bass and Matt Wilson sitting in on drums. This is the third live Sunnyside recording from them. It is—on a bar set high with In Concert Featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson 2009) and Stairway to the Stars (2014)—their best.
Opening with a dazzlingly reharmonized Cole Porter's "All of You," the group explores every nuance of the melody, improvises with a fluid grace and throws in surprises in interplay, melody stretching and harmonic ingenuity. The result is a sparkling jewel, stretched out over eleven gorgeous minutes.
Zeitlin's setlists mix American Songbook tunes and jazz standards with his own classic tunes that either are or should be standards. Considering the Zeitlin originals, the disc's title tune—a slow bossa nova, lushly harmonized—is ten minutes of sweet yearning. "There and Back," inspired by Tolkien's The Hobbit is a lovely jumble of a tune that slips into a funk groove.
With the set's centerpiece, "Slickrock," Zeitlin and the trio explore the avant-garde side, with paean to one of the pianist's former pastimes, mountain biking. This adventurous, four part, seventeen minute suite captures the essence of the experience, from the Zen calm of "Dawn Gathering" to the bone-jarring momentum of "On the Trail," and the mental and physical discombobulation of "Recovery," followed by a re-gathering of the senses and a re-establishment of a strong, steady rhythm, followed by a re-set of the joy of acceleration with "On the Trail Again."
Wishing on the Moon represents the Denny Zeitlin Trio at the peak of its powers, on one those nights—this was recorded live at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola in New York in 2009—when all the gears meshed, and all the stars aligned around that shining moon.
Track Listing: 
All Of You; Wishing On The Moon; As Long As There's Music; Slickrock: Dawn; Gathering, On The Trail, Recovery, On The Trail Again; Put Your Little Foot Right Out; There And Back; Bass Prelude To Signs & Wonders; Signs & Wonders.
Denny Zeitlin: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.

Stefano Bollani Trio

By Peter Bacon
It’s a much bigger cast than just the trio. In addition to Italian pianist Stefano Bollaniand his pair of Danes, Jesper Bodilsen on bass and Morten Lund on drums, we hear Frenchman Vincent Peirani on accordion and accordina as well as 14 members of the Berliner Philharmoniker, all playing music arranged by Norwegian Geir Lysne.
This is the 17th in the Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic series of concerts which attempts “to put the ‘Sound of Europe’ on the big stage. This time Italy is the star, not just because of Bollani's charismatic presence at the centre of everything, but because the music delves deep into the riches of Italy’s past, from Claudio Monteverdi through Giacomo Puccini, Gioachino Rossini and Ruggero Leoncavallo to Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone and Paulo Conte/Michele Virano.
The trumpets and other horns of Berliner Philharmoniker herald the start of the concert, playing the Toccata from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, leading dramatically to powerful opening chords from the trio in the Sinfonia from the same opera with explosive solos from the Berlin Phil’s violist Martin Stegner, Bollani and Peirani, the 14-piece mini-orchestra giving them a good run for their money throughout.
The switch to a solo piano interpretation of Rota’s theme from Federico Fellini’s film Amarcord is a gorgeous contrast. Were any two musicians more perfectly suited than Rota and Bollani?
The party-like encore is more Rota, this time the marching theme from Fellini’s Fortunella, the orchestra giving its all in a jam-packed, rambunctious two minutes.
Before then we’ve heard Morricone’s Chi Mai given a Monty Alexander-style reggae treatment with lush orchestral support, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly with delicate expressiveness from Peirani, and a third Morricone piece adding tension and drama so that it can be blissfully undone in Conte/Virano’s cantering Azzurro. Bollani is as suited to Conte’s world as he is to Fellini’s, and there is a fine bass solo from Bodilsen.
The double whammy of Puccini’s O Mio Babbino Caro and Leoncavallo’s Mattinatagets the piano trio swing treatment leading to shimmering strings, the full orchestra and Peirani adding urgent interjections over the top before the horns and Bollani leads into a beautifully voiced, and beautifully measured, denouement and back to the start.
Rossini’s Largo al Factotum, from The Barber of Seville is the concert climax with everyone having a ball and Bollani offering a teasing cadenza.
This kind of big, celebrity concert with a grand sense of occasion and some kind of contrived overarching theme can, in subsequent recording, leave one responding: “Hmm, maybe you had to be there”. But when it works, one’s response changes to: “Damn! I wish I’d been there!” This album is definitely worthy of the latter response.

Pawel Kaczmarczyk Audiofeeling Trio
Something Personal

By Ian Patterson
For fans of Pawel Kaczmarczyk it's been a lengthy wait for a follow-up to Complexity in Simplicity (ACT Music, 2009), his sole recording for Siggi Loch's label. Six years seems like too long a gap for such a prodigiously talented performer and composer but this extended stewing period sees the Krakow pianist return in absolutely splendid form with Something Personal, his fourth album as a leader. On Complexity in SimplicityKaczmarczyk was bursting with ideas, harnessing a dozen of Poland's brightest young musicians in settings ranging from trio to septet. Yet paradoxically, in the reduced trio format of Something Personal, the pianist, it appears, has much more to say.
The overt flirtations with post-bop, harp-bop and an elegiac tribute to Esbjorn Svensson on his previous album signposted Kaczmarczyk's influences, whereas on the aptly titled Something Personal these idioms are refined and absorbed into something altogether more forward-looking. Last time out Kaczmarczyk hinted at his interpretive and balladeering nuance on Elton John's "Blue Eyes," but even Brad Mehldau would have to doff his cap to the caressing lyricism and improvisational flare Kaczmarczyk brings to Massive Attack's "Teardrop," deftly accompanied by bassist Maciej Adamczak and drummer Dawid Fortuna. Kaczmarczyk's writing, however, is on a par with his often breath-taking/beguiling delivery and his impressionistic ballad "Sunrise" and the gorgeous, slow-burning, "Garana" are no less moving.
The trio chemistry is pronounced throughout, notably on the spirited title track where the three voices interweave in exhilarating fashion. Virtuosity, however, is never an end in itself, and the sense of balance and space in the trio's dialogue is a big part of the music's charm—the grooving, Vince Guaraldi-esque "Birthday Song" the perfect illustration of less is more. Adamczak in particular is afforded ample solo time where his measured lyricism shines; his affinity with Kaczmarczyk, in whatever gear, is notable. Fortuna's whispering cymbals and fine brushwork illuminate the gentler passages, while his more animated, inventive rhythms stoke Kaczmarczyk's fire.
When in full flow, as on the dramatic "Mr. Blacksmith," Kaczmarczyk combines the rhythmic intensity of Neil Cowley and the thrilling melodic invention of Esbjorn Svensson, yet his modern jazz vocabulary is equally colored by a baroque vein and a pop sensibility that values tunefulness. A little of all these traits merge in the outstanding "Crazy Love," whose elegant, Beatles-esque melody and Bach underbelly rubs shoulders with Kaczmarczyk's more charged pianism. Adamczak's exquisitely weighted solo—nicely framed at the tune's midpoint—provides a compelling mini-narrative and an album highlight.
Something Personal, in turn thrilling and gently hypnotic, makes a persuasive case for Kaczmarczyk's Audiofeeling Trio as one of jazz's most exciting contemporary piano trios. If Kaczmarczyk gains the wider international recognition his talents merit, then the void left in the wake of the Esbjorn Svensson Trio's demise might not seem quite so big.
Track Listing: 
Teardrop; Something Personal; Birthday Song; Crazy Love; Sunrise; Mr. Blacksmith; Garana.
Pawel Kaczmarczyk: piano; Maciej Adamczak: double bass; Dawid Fortuna: drums.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

2 Sem 2018 - Part Seven

Bogdan Hołownia & Wojciech Pulcyn
Henryk Wars Songbook

By Bogdan Chmura
Pianista Bogdan Hołownia wziął na warsztat tematy Henryka Warsa, czołowego twórcy przedwojennych przebojów, muzyki filmowej, jednego z „ojców” polskiego jazzu. Twórczością tego kompozytora Hołownia fascynował się od dawna, zgłębiał jego utwory, wykonywał je na koncertach, teraz postanowił nagrać je na płycie.
Słuchając albumu odniosłem wrażenie, że podczas pracy nad projektem artysta działał wg jednego podstawowego założenia: trzymać się jak najbliżej oryginału. I rzeczywiście, w przeciwieństwie do innych podobnych opracowań – a było ich naprawdę sporo – Hołownia nie próbuje odczytywać tej muzyki na nowo, szukać w niej „drugiego dna”, uwspółcześniać jej na siłę – stawia na prostotę, elegancję, komunikatywność. Elementem pierwszoplanowym każdej interpretacji jest linia melodyczna. Hołownia pokazuje nam ją niemal w pierwotnej postaci, eksponuje jej naturalną urodę, czasem wprowadza drobne ozdobniki, lekko wzbogaca harmonię. Zachowuje też ogólny klimat utworów – kolejne numery, utrzymane w wolnych lub umiarkowanych tempach, brzmią nastrojowo, czasem, jak w oryginale, nieco sentymentalnie. Solówki obu wykonawców są powściągliwe i zgrabnie wpasowane w narrację. Album jest bardzo jednolity w charakterze – minimalistyczna” konwencja (zredukowana ekspresja, podobne tempa, wyrównana dynamika) została utrzymana od początku do końca. Konsekwentna postawa lidera dobrze służy muzyce, choć chwilami brakowało mi odrobiny urozmaicenia i lekkiego dystansu do „materiału źródłowego”.
Płyta skierowana przede wszystkim do fanów piosenek Warsa i miłośników swingującej ballady.

Bill Anschell
Shifting Standards

By Paul Rauch
Seattle based pianist Bill Anschell has created a tremendous body of work over the the past 30 years, as a composer, musical director, and pianist. He returned to Seattle in 2002 after 25 years abroad and formed a relationship with Origin Records, releasing more than a dozen records both as a leader and co-leader. Whether composing and performing original pieces, or interpreting standards ranging from Cole Porter to Lennon/McCartney, Anschell has consistently upheld a rare standard of excellence.
Anschell's musical personality can perhaps be best experienced within the confines of Tula's Jazz Club, an intimate jazz spot in Seattle's Belltown neighborhood. He typically performs with two separate combos, a quartet that performs his own works, and a standards trio featuring trail blazing bassist Jeff Johnson, and wonderfully talented drummer D’Vonne Lewis. The trio has been performing on and off since 2007, and have achieved an intuitive, almost telepathic musical relationship that produces moments only attained through the one mindedness of the piano trio format. They perform in the area of 80 standards, never play from a set list, and are subject to the momentary whims of Anschell's inventive curiosity. At long last, the trio has released a definitive collection of standards aptly titled Shifting Standards on the Origin label.
This studio recording closely resembles the unabridged collective spirit the trio achieves in a club setting, recording it organically, set up close together without the benefit of isolation booths. The result is a conversation in spontaneous invention, exquisitely recorded by Reed Ruddy at Avast Studios in Seattle.
Anschell chose his mates for the project well, in the persons of Johnson and Lewis. Johnson, one of the most musical of bassists drenched refreshingly in the oral tradition, is a true innovator in the art of the trio. His work with the Hal Galper Trio, both as a bassist and composer has helped revolutionize the piano trio, by using a rubato approach that creates an elasticity to time. He as well has been a driving force in the trios of transcendent pianists Jessica Williams, and Chano Dominguez.
The uber talented Lewis, a fourth generation Seattle musician, is a perfect reactionary participant, gathering the energy tossed about by the unbridled melodicism of Anschell and the absolutely unique and identifiable sound of Johnson. The music communicates a joy and contentment between the three that pulls the listener in, seeking the same.
For the opener, the band gets inside Dizzy Gillespie's "A Night in Tunisia," all the while alluding to the Latin feel of the piece, without ever engaging it. The trio revolves around the harmony as a common center, with Johnson the perfect counterpoint to Anschell's playful treatment of the melody. Johnson never falls prey to the theme's signature bass line as one might hear in standard versions, including the piano trio interpretation from Bud Powell, with Curly Russell's bass line providing a definitive foundation for Powell's meanderings from the original theme. While Anschell clearly leads the way, his playing is like a musical delta to where the musical waters flow through and beyond into the tidal wash of sound provided by Johnson and Lewis.
The compositional variance piece-to-piece on Shifting Standards keeps the listener engaged in classic melodies that can serve as a harmonic anchor in one's conception of the music, all the while creating more and more slack in the creative line before it is once again taut and firmly in place. Irving Berlin's "Cheek to Cheek" is a case in point. While some of the other tunes on the record may score higher on the hip meter, the trio swings this piece into submission, with Lewis providing a bounce that accentuates this joyful romp. Lewis bears artistic resemblance to the great Roy Haynes here, his playing shifting between artful restraint, and hard swinging liberation.
Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time" is certainly one of the most beautiful melodies ever written, so beautiful in fact, that much like Coltrane's "Naima," interpretation can be a delicate matter. The exquisitely graceful melody and harmony ebbs and flows like the tide, providing brief moments to embellish perfection. Much like pianist Bill Evans on his classic recordings of the Bernstein classic over the course of his career, Anschell soulfully sways back and forth within the harmony to state just enough of the melody in his soloing to create a reharmonization that is stunningly beautiful. The listener is helplessly submerged in a whirlpool of sentimentality that is insatiable.
Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," encapsulates Shifting Standards perfectly. It feels like a casual, yet deep conversation between friends that have achieved a comfort level in terms of truth, honesty, and loving respect. Johnson accentuates his passages with an elegant vibrato that is yet another aspect of his musical persona that is distinctive. Anschell's compositional prowess is clearly heard here through his approach to interpretation. He has a unique ability to connect the dots harmonically in such a way that draws a very thin line between the intuitive art of improvisation, and the artful craft of composition. The stylish Lewis is reactive to his mates, yet shedding light on the musical path before them, a wonderful give and take that has evolved over a decade of bonding with this perfect trio.
Jazz music has become, in many ways, like classical music in the modern age. It is largely taught in institutions, its standards given treatment much like the symphonic music of the 18th and 19th century masters. This record is more about the oral tradition, a social music without charted territory, a place where musician and listener can go to a peaceful place where human emotion can thrive, reflect, hold something close, and then let it fly away in the autumnal breezes of time.
Track Listing: 
A Night In Tunisia; Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered; Cheek to Cheek; You And The Night And The Music; Some Other Time; Con Alma; Soul Eyes; Jitterbug Waltz; All of You.
Bill Anschell: piano; Jeff Johnson: bass; D'Vonne Lewis: drums.

Guido Manusardi Trio

By AmazonMusic
I think that the title of this disc is perfectly congenial - Metamorphosis stands for profound transformation in form and structure. I have known and listened to pianist Guido Mansuardi, born in 1935, for more than 40 years and consider myself schooled in his impressive musical productions since his 1966 record debut. Guido is a full-blooded swinger and his playing is rooted firmly in the tradition. Surprisingly, after listening to this record I hear and find a pianist astonishingly original and dynamic, playing with a moving fluidity and freshness. His compositions perfectly reflect the essence of his current state of playing, with changing moods and situations of remarkable harmonic complexity. (Giovanni Bianchi) In the 1950s-60s, during his long stays in Sweden and Romania, Guido Manusardi recovered elements of European folk music and mixed them with his classic way of piano playing, creating a personal musical language appreciated throughout Europe. In these two countries the pianist experienced early success, then enjoying upon his return to Italy the esteem given to foreign musicians.

Marcin Wasilewski Trio

By Thomas Conrad at JazzTimes
As this review is written, sad news of the death of Tomasz Stanko is still fresh. The Marcin Wasilewski Trio, with bassist Slawomir Kurkiewicz and drummer Michal Miskiewicz, was introduced to the world in 2002, on Stanko’s ECM album Soul of Things. They were young and unknown then. Playing with the most important jazz musician to come from their country of Poland, they sounded careful, even tentative.
Over two more Stanko albums, Suspended Night (2004) and Lontano (2006), it became apparent why Stanko believed in them, and what he had taught them. These three, like Stanko, understood that the darkness of silence can be as much a part of the music as the light that musicians selectively impose upon silence.
They have now made five albums of their own for ECM, and have become one of the most creative and stable piano trios in jazz. They are all in their early forties but have been together for 25 years. Live was recorded in 2016 at a concert for 4,000 people at the Jazz Middelheim festival in Antwerp, Belgium. It contains an epic engagement with the Police’s “Message in a Bottle.” For this trio’s generation, songs by Sting are standards. Upon his catchy ditty of 1980-pop consciousness, they unleash jazz energy in torrents: wildly skittering piano, drum detonations, a swirling bass solo.
There are tracks here, like “Three Reflections” and “Austin,” that contain the haunting fragmentary lyricism and pensive, nocturnal Stanko-esque atmospheres of their previous four ECM albums. But more often, before a large, loud crowd, they choose to burn. This trio is no longer tentative. Pieces like “Night Train to You” and Herbie Hancock’s “Actual Proof” display their chops and cohesion, but not their magic. In current jazz, chops and cohesion are not in short supply. Magic always is.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Roy Hargrove ( 1969 - 2018 )

By Giovanni Russonello at NYTimes
Roy Hargrove, a virtuoso trumpeter who became a symbol of jazz’s youthful renewal in the early 1990s, and then established himself as one of the most respected musicians of his generation, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 49.
His death, at Mount Sinai Hospital, was caused by cardiac arrest brought on by kidney disease, according to his manager, Larry Clothier. He said Mr. Hargrove had been on dialysis for 13 years.
Beginning in his high school years Mr. Hargrove expressed a deep affinity for jazz’s classic lexicon and the creative flexibility to place it in a fresh context. He would take the stock phrases of blues and jazz and reinvigorate them while reminding listeners of the long tradition whence he came.
“He rarely sounds as if he stepped out of a time machine,” the critic Nate Chinen wrote in 2008, reviewing Mr. Hargrove’s album “Earfood”for The New York Times. “At brisk tempos he summons a terrific clarity and tension, leaning against the current of his rhythm section. At a slower crawl, playing fluegelhorn, he gives each melody the equivalent of a spa treatment.”
In the late 1990s, already established as a jazz star, Mr. Hargrove became affiliated with the Soulquarians, a loose confederation of musicians from the worlds of hip-hop and neo-soul that included Questlove, Erykah Badu, Common and D’Angelo. For several years the collective convened semi-regularly at Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan, recording albums now seen as classics. Mr. Hargrove’s sly horn overdubs can be heard, guttering like a low flame, on records like “Voodoo,” by D’Angelo, and “Mama’s Gun,” by Ms. Badu.
“He is literally the one-man horn section I hear in my head when I think about music,” Questlove wrote on Instagram after Mr. Hargrove’s death.
Even as he explored an ever-expanding musical terrain, Mr. Hargrove did not lose sight of jazz traditions. “To get a thorough knowledge of anything you have to go to its history,” he told the writer Tom Piazza in 1990 for an article about young jazz musicians in The New York Times Magazine. “I’m just trying to study the history, learn it, understand it, so that maybe I’ll be able to develop something that hasn’t been done yet.”
In 1997 he recorded the album “Habana,” an electrified, rumba-inflected parley between American and Cuban musicians united under the band name Crisol. The album, featuring Hargrove originals and compositions by jazz musicians past and present, earned him his first of two Grammy Awards.
His second was for the 2002 album “Directions in Music,” a live recording on which he was a co-leader with the pianist Herbie Hancock and the tenor saxophonist Michael Brecker. That album became a favorite of jazz devotees and music students trying to envision a future for acoustic-jazz innovation.
In the 2000s, Mr. Hargrove released three records with RH Factor, a large ensemble that built a style of its own out of cool, electrified hip-hop grooves and greasy funk from the 1970s.
He held onto the spirit that guided those inquiries — one of creative fervor, tempered by cool poise — in the more traditionally formatted Roy Hargrove Quintet, a dependable group he maintained for most of his career. On “Earfood,” a late-career highlight, the quintet capers from savvy updates of jazz standards to original ballads and new tunes that mix Southern warmth and hip-hop swagger.
By his mid-20s, Mr. Hargrove was already giving back to the New York jazz scene that had made him its crown prince. In 1995, with the vocalist Lezlie Harrison and the organizer Dale Fitzgerald, he founded the Jazz Gallery, a little downtown venue that today stands as New York’s most reliable home for cutting-edge presentations by young jazz musicians.
Into his final days, dogged by failing health, Mr. Hargrove remained a fixture of the jam sessions at Smalls in Greenwich Village. When not on tour, he spent multiple nights each week in that low-ceilinged basement, his slight, nattily dressed frame emerging occasionally from a corner to blow a smoky, quietly arresting solo.
Roy Anthony Hargrove was born on Oct. 16, 1969, in Waco, Tex., to Roy Allan and Jacklyn Hargrove, and raised primarily in Dallas, where his family moved when he was 9. His father served in the Air Force and then worked in a factory for Texas Instruments. His mother held clerical jobs, including as an administrator at the Dallas County Jail.
Mr. Hargrove is survived by his mother; his wife, Aida; a daughter, Kamala; and his brother, Brian.
Quiet and retiring by nature, Mr. Hargrove developed a close attachment to music. “My parents weren’t around that much; I was pretty much in solitude,” he told Mr. Piazza. “Originally I wanted to play the clarinet, but we didn’t have any money. My dad had a cornet that he’d bought from a pawn shop, so I just played that. I learned to love it.”
Mentored by his high school band teacher, Mr. Hargrove showed his talents early. He played at jazz-education festivals and conferences with his high school band, and rumors of his virtuosity spread.
When Mr. Hargrove was in 11th grade, the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis visited his high school during a tour stop in Fort Worth, asking to hear the young phenom. Mr. Marsalis was so impressed that he invited Mr. Hargrove to join him at a nearby club date. That led to a trip to Europe in the summer before his senior year to take part in the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague as a member of an all-star band.
After a year at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mr. Hargrove moved to New York City in 1990, at 20. He briefly attended the New School, but his home base was Bradley’s, the Greenwich Village club and jam-session hub peopled by many of jazz’s most esteemed elders. He usually stayed until closing each night. (Bradley’s closed in 1996.)
For his first six months in New York, he slept on the couch at the home of Wendy Cunningham, the owner of Bradley’s. By the end of that time, he had recorded a well-regarded debut album, “Diamond in the Rough,” for RCA and become the talk of the town.
“Among the newcomers, the one name everyone mentions is Roy Hargrove,” Mr. Piazza wrote in 1990. “His playing incorporates a wide, rich sound, something like that of the great Clifford Brown,” he added. “Barely out of his teens, Hargrove is a mixture of shyness and cockiness, boyish enthusiasm and high seriousness. Music is his whole life.”
The New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who rose to prominence alongside Mr. Hargrove in the early 1990s, reflected on his significance in a blog post on Saturday. “I often say two things changed the New York City straight-ahead music scene: Art Blakey passing and Bradley’s closing,” Mr. Payton wrote. “Now I have to add a third, the departure of Roy Hargrove. New York will not be the same without you.”
Correction: Nov. 3, 2018
An earlier version of this obituary misspelled the middle name of Roy Hargrove’s father. He was Roy Allan Hargrove, not Allen. Because of an editing error, the earlier version also misspelled the given name of Mr. Hargrove’s mother. She is Jacklyn Hargrove, not Jackyn.