Hargrove grew up in Texas where he was discovered by Wynton Marsalis as a high school trumpet player. He briefly attended Berklee before transferring to The New School in New York City where he was already participating in many jam sessions. He soon began a recording career that would eventually feature him on scores of albums. He recorded his first solo record in 1990. He played Hard Bop, Neo-Soul and won a Grammy in the Latin Jazz Category before winning another in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category four years later. He worked with stars like Erykah Badu and Common, and was heralded as a bridge for Bop to a new generation of fans.
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