On Wednesday, November 6, for two sets only, the Marcus Roberts Trio returns to the Dakota stage to bring its well-known one-of-a-kind virtuosity to local audiences. And for a group that was founded in 1995, they’ve come a long way in 18 years.
If you’ve been lucky enough to witness this trio in action over the last few years, consider yourself well aware of what these sets might be like this time around. If you’re planning to see Roberts for the first time, prepare to thoroughly enjoy yourself. This concert will no doubt be one of the best presented by the Dakota this year.
Roberts’ jazz trio includes drummer and NEA Jazz Master Jason Marsalis, and bassist Rodney Jordan, who is a colleague of Roberts’ on the faculty at Florida State University. He is the trio’s newest addition. Previously, bassist Roland Guerin was in the trio.
Roberts’s improvised sound, like that of the sounds of Art Tatum and Thelonious Monk back in the day, is deeply admired and respected in the current world of jazz.
For its bluesy sound, and Roberts’ velvet touch, one of my all-time favorite Roberts recordings is from 1989, Deep in the Shed from Novus, which as released in February 1990. “Spiritual Awakening” is a standout track.
Beyond touring with his trio, according to his website, Roberts’ current focus is on expanding their unique trio format to larger ensembles (ranging from quartet to septet, octet and larger). In this way, all musicians on the stage will use their quick musical reflexes and creative imaginations to improvise freely as individuals and as a group while maintaining the same powerfully rhythmic group sound.
Roberts said “the new 2013 reinterpreted recording, re-titled Marcus Roberts Nonet: Deep in the Shed: A Blues Suite (J-Master/Tunecore), has a different track order than the original recording. The current track sequence is now how I imagined it when I first composed the music, with the exception of a final track “Athanatos Rythmos” that I have added to this new recording.”
Roberts also adds, “this new CD is much more of a band statement than a compositional statement; everyone in this band has a clear role and history with the group. We have a group philosophy of playing and we use the compositions to express our varied musical personalities.”
Robin James welcomes reader responses at firstname.lastname@example.org.