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roy hargrove
Sound Clips
Listening Station
roy hargrove
Sound Clips


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"Jazz Monthly Feature Interview" Roy Hargrove

roy hargroveSmitty: Well it’s certainly my wonderful pleasure to welcome to Jazz Monthly for the first time a monster horn player. He’s always involved in melding new sounds and some really funky fabric. Case In Point, he is about to release not one but two great new projects, “Distractions” and “Nothing Serious.” Please welcome Grammy award winning, Verve recording artist the incredible Mr. Roy Hargrove. How ya’ doin’ Roy?

RH: I’ve been alright.

Smitty: Cool. So you’ve got not one but two projects out. So you’re a busy man, wow. Talk to me a little bit about the RH factor. This is a great group that you’ve put together, a nice band. You cats are really putting some funky sounds out there.

RH: That group is like a tribute to the music that I grew up listening to.

Smitty: Yeah. So when you put this new recording together “Distractions,” was that something that was building over a period? How long did it take to do that project?

RH: We did it in four days.

Smitty:  Four days. That’s incredible. This something you’ve always wanted to do? Or is this something that kind of popped in your head and you said “Hey lets do this thing?”

RH: Well I had been trying for a while to do a record like this. It wasn’t until I actually recorded with some other artists, then that became possible.

Smitty: Yeah. Well just backing up little bit, you’ve had some magnificent influences during our career. Even going back to your early years when you were a teenager you encountered David Newman. Talk about what that was like for a teenager with a horn in his hand and a desire to play some great music. What was that like checking out this great legend during that time?

roy hargroveRH: Well David “Fathead” Newman was my first experience with improvisation. When I saw him play for the first time I realized that there is an importance of spontaneous music being made on the spot. It was so soulful and singing through his horn. So that’s how I was inspired early on.

Smitty: That’s an experience that not everyone can say that they’ve had. That was a history making moment to encounter a legend during those early years of your life.

RH: Right.

Smitty: After that experience did you go back to the studio or to your house with the thought of trying do what you had just experience? What was it like after that experience?

RH: It just inspired me to want to do that, to do what he was doing.

Smitty: We all want to do what he was doing but only a few can even get close to what he was doing.

RH: Exactly.

Smitty: So now I mean you just laid down some fantastic sounds with both of these projects and then you’re doing the quintet thing. When does this stop for you? You just got it going on right now.

RH: I just like to keep busy on my music, you know.

Smitty: It definitely shows because I can tell you, I love the tracks on this quintet project but the “Nothing Serious” Project, and what can you say about Slide Hampton? You’ve got some great musicians on here, Ronny Matthews what a piano player, man. That had to be inspirational to, just working with these cats. 

RH: Yeah. Ronny Matthews, I played with him when I was seventeen. The time I went to Europe.

Smitty: These two projects are released simultaneously. When you first put the first project together, were you thinking about doing the other project as well? Or was this something that evolved after the fact?

RH: Well we had been touring with those bands on the road so everybody was very well rehearsed. So we just took them into the studio and recorded what was going on.

Smitty: I love this track “Devil Eyes,” what a track, and “Camaraderie.”  You’re a great song writer, when you’re laying down the charts, are you feeling the music at that time, or is it something that is experienced before hand?

RH: Well I mean I just sit at the piano and maybe figure out some harmony or melody or both. Sometimes you can hear it in your head. Sometimes you don’t always have to write it down. You just write it down so you can remember it.

Smitty: Absolutely my friend. You’ve got a monster tour put together for this year. Do you like being out on the road?

RH: I like it sometimes, and sometimes I don’t really like it too much.

Smitty: Well we always enjoy seeing you out there playing, man and it’s always an inspirational thing to see you on stage doing your thing. Talk to about Renee Neufville, what a voice. You know when you’re playing instrumental music, and then this beautiful voice comes in, what does that do for you in terms of your musicianship when you get this kind of beautiful voice melding with the horn?

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