In the 2000s, he 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 classics 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., and raised primarily in Dallas, where his family moved when he was 9. His father, Roy Allan Hargrove, served in the Air Force and then worked in a factory for Texas Instruments. His mother, Jacklyn Hargrove, 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.