Trumpeter Roy Campbell, who died in January 2014, was a fantastic musician who bridged the gap between hard bop intensity and free jazz exploration. He could play seemingly any note on the horn, slurring and distorting as needed to the point where he could almost sound like he was using electronics to manipulate his sound, without actually doing so. Growing up, he studied with Kenny Dorham, Lee Morgan, and Howard McGhee, but also idolized Don Cherry for his sonic open-mindedness. Campbell made a name for himself on the loft scene of the 1970s, most prominently as a member of Jemeel Moondoc‘s Muntu; the two men last played together on Moondoc’s The Zookeeper’s House, released in 2014.
Campbell led many groups on his own, including Tazz and Pyramid Trio (with bassist William Parker and various drummers). He recorded several albums for Delmark—1992’s New Kingdom and 2001’s Ethnic Stew and Brew are essential. He was also 1/4 of Other Dimensions in Music, a fully improvising quartet that featured himself, saxophonist Daniel Carter, Parker on bass, and Rashid Bakr/Charles Downs on drums.
The following performance, in four parts, was recorded for Portuguese television in 2001. It features Campbell alongside bassist Wilber Morris and drummer Lou Grassi (who uploaded these videos to YouTube).
“Brother Yusef (for Yusef Lateef)”:
“Two Fives for a Dime”:
“Ode for Mr. D.C. (for Dennis Charles)”: