January 7, 1990 |
A great believer in the jazz tradition, Marcus Roberts may be one of the best bets for its survival through the next decade. His work as pianist and orchestrator for Wynton Marsalis has revealed a deep commitment to the mainstream values of harmonic improvisation, melodic creativity and rhythmic swing. As an improviser, Roberts finds inspiration in the musical conceptualizing of Duke Ellington, the disjunct rhythms and off-beat harmonies of Thelonious Monk and the spirituality of John Coltrane--not a bad combination of influences.
October 5, 1996
Don Heckman roundly applauds Marcus Roberts for removing "Rhapsody in Blue" "from its usual dated context" ("Roberts Uncovers New Dimension to 'Rhapsody in Blue,' " Calendar, Sept. 30). Is this dated as in how Chopin is dated? How about that Perry Como version of the Polonaise in A-flat, and that bonus lyric "Till the End of Time"? The Roberts rendition of this landmark composition meanders and wanders about cutely, but hardly gives the piece "a vigorous new future." A new version of "Sunset Boulevard" with an added subplot of how the chimp died would be amusing for a while, but eventually we'd get back to the real thing.
May 1, 2011 |
"Who says that only Americans know how to play Gershwin?" asks Gramophone magazine this month as it hails a new Gershwin CD from the Leipzig Gewandhaus, the German orchestra that calls itself the world's oldest. "By this time possibly nobody," the British record guide answers its rhetorical self. But if you ain't got that swing .... The Leipzigers' new recording of "Rhapsody in Blue" and the Piano Concerto in F features the ancient orchestra's current music director, Riccardo Chailly, and pianist Stefano Bollani.
March 19, 1999 |
The piano trio is one of the fundamental jazz chamber ensembles. Like the string quartet in concert music, it contains everything required for creative expression, from both a minimalist and an expansive point of view. It can groove with the intensity of an Oscar Peterson trio, float with the harmonic interplay of a Bill Evans ensemble, or click with the rhythmic precision of an Ahmad Jamal group.
May 22, 1997 |
Pianist Marcus Roberts has had a look of remarkable versatility for the last few years. His reinterpretation of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" was one of last year's jazz highlights, he has performed a number of extraordinary concerts as a solo pianist, played with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and released several impressive recordings of his trio playing originals and standards. "When people ask me what I do," Roberts said recently, "I say, 'I present the piano.'
March 22, 1992 |
MARCUS ROBERTS "As Serenity Approaches" Novus * * * Roberts' talent and keyboard technique are beyond reproach. He is a master of stride, as is often shown here, and of the blues, which forms the basis of several of his compositions. What we need to know is: How does he plan to employ all this mastery beyond updating styles and sounds of the 1920s? There are moments of great beauty within this collection's 19 cuts--eight of which feature guest soloists.
November 13, 1992 |
Marcus Roberts, the pianist who earned consistent praise during his years with Wynton Marsalis and later with his own sextet, is now appearing at Catalina Bar & Grill, through Sunday, as a solo performer. Along with the decision to work on his own, Roberts has undergone a change in direction. Formerly a flag bearer for progress, he has evidently been exploring jazz-piano history and concentrating on earlier styles.
June 9, 1990 |
Five years ago Marcus Roberts, then 21, joined the Wynton Marsalis group as pianist and composer. Roberts, who was heard last year at Hollywood's Vine Street Bar & Grill during a leave of absence, has now left Marsalis permanently and is back at Vine Street (through Sunday), leading a unit that is similar to the one he presented previously.
January 13, 2002 |
. . MARCUS ROBERTS, "Cole After Midnight", Columbia Wynton Marsalis long has called Roberts the "J Master" (as in "Jazz Master"), and with each recording, the pianist reaffirms the accuracy of Marsalis' assessment. If in previous outings Roberts has radically reinvented music of George Gershwin, Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll Morton, among others, this time Roberts finds new layers of meaning and romance in tunes associated with Nat "King" Cole. Yet even though Roberts revisits Cole standards such as "Unforgettable" and "Too Young," Roberts' idiosyncratic interpretations are as original as if these were newly composed works.
September 30, 1996 |
Marcus Roberts' emergence as one of the most vital jazz voices of the mid-'90s continued to blossom Friday night at Glendale's Alex Theatre. From the moment the 33-year-old blind pianist sat down at his keyboard, quietly made a few humorous comments and dug into a set of improvisations, it was clear that he has a rare capacity to interpret jazz in a manner that opens the music to a wide and varied audience.