Susanne Alt
Susanne Alt

NRC, 19-02-2024

(NRC, 19-02-2024)



Susanne Alt on jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove

"He was the epitome of infectious jazz"

"In his hotel room, Roy Hargrove always played cassette tapes of pure bebop: Miles Davis, Charlie Parker. All uptempo. He constantly wanted to be in a jazz flow of playing and listening. He also enjoyed playing with soul artists like D'Angelo, funk musicians, and rappers. I learned from him that it's okay to be a dedicated jazz musician and still have an interest in other genres."

Saxophonist Susanne Alt, who resides in Amsterdam (born in Würzburg, 1978), pays tribute to the early deceased, influential American jazz trumpeter Roy Hargrove on her new album, "Royalty For Real," with whom she was friends. It marks a return for her to acoustic jazz after Alt developed an electronic sound in recent years and established herself as a DJ and producer. The album was recorded with former band members of Hargrove.

"Roy was one of the first musicians I truly became a fan of. He was the epitome of infectious jazz. His sound moved between very lyrical and very exuberant, almost like gospel. He didn't play as many notes as others. Sometimes, the barrage of notes from others becomes a bit of a circus for me, so that really appealed to me. "Wherever he played, he would always jam afterwards with young local musicians. That's how I got to know him when I was seventeen. A year later, I saw him again at the North Sea Jazz Festival in The Hague. Afterwards, musicians often played next door at the Hotel Bel Air in The Hague until dawn. There I was on stage with Roy, but also with drummer Questlove and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Unbelievable. I've tried to capture that atmosphere on the album in the song "Bel Air Bop." "We became friends, I always tried to search him up when he was in the area. For him, jamming was really the foundation, the beauty of spontaneous interaction. It's not just about musicians among themselves, but also about the audience. Jazz isn't just listening music for the elite, but about having fun and making connections. Roy made jazz more open and inclusive."

"I was so devastated when he passed away. I was in a hotel room in Prague in November 2018 and saw the news on Facebook. I actually thought he could go on for a long time, despite his kidney disease. He was only 49 years old."

"I recorded this album, dedicated to Hargrove, in 2022 in New York with musicians from his circle. I was lucky that it was still the tail end of corona, drummer Willie Jones III and bassist Gerald Cannon were just in town and were happy to participate. They both played in Roy's band for seven years. Keyboardist James Hurt is also a world-class player."

"I was a bit starstruck in the studio, I must admit. We're colleagues and have gotten to know each other over the years, but I was still mainly just a fan of them. Still am, actually. I had to redo a few solos because of nerves, or because I was distracted because what they played was just so beautiful."
Leendert van der Valk


The album "Royalty For Real" is out now.

Concert: 24/3 Lantaren Venster, Rotterdam; 1/6 Verkadefabriek, Den Bosch

on 23/03/2024


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