On his birthday today we miss our NYC jazz scene trumpeter/composer hero Roy Campbell Jr. I have witnessed his excellence on many, many occasions and his bright tone and world music-influenced free-jazz are greatly missed. He was most definitely one of the greats of progressive jazz trumpet, in lineage with Lee Morgan, Clifford Brown, Booker Little and Don Cherry.
A native of the Big Apple, he started playing trumpet at 15 and studied with Morgan and Kenny Dorham. As a teen he played in big bands and as he turned 20 he aligned himself with the avant-garde with his group Spectrum. After some study with Yusef Lateef, he started a long association with Jemeel Moondoc & William Parker in Ensemble Muntu.
He co-founded some great ensembles: Other Dimensions In Music (w/ Daniel Carter, Parker, Rashied Bakr and sometimes Matthew Shipp), Pyramid Trio (w/ Parker & Hamid Drake) and the Nu Band. He has worked with Eddie Harris, Last Poets, Sun Ra, Don Cherry, Cecil Taylor, Sabir Mateen, Yo La Tengo, Charles Neville, Khan Jamal, Joe Maneri, El-P, Rob Brown, Peter Brotzmann, Mark Ribot and many more. He has also played with dancers, scored for film & stage and played funk & bop.
His original compositions were informed by not only the avant-garde but also Afro-Cuban, Caribbean, West African, Asian and Jamaican musics, as well as a lot of Don Cherry influence and his music could be highly politicized at times. He played trumpet, pocket trumpet, flugelhorn, flutes & recorder and violin. He has also done some acting work. It must also be noted that was a freak for horror flicks.