Marcus Roberts Trio
“..the Marcus Roberts Trio, whose brilliance was consistently displayed throughout … The best parallel to this group would be the famed Oscar Peterson Trio of the ’50s and ’60s.”
- Ron Wynn, Arts Nash
Marcus Roberts Trio
The Marcus Roberts Trio - a long-term musical partnership between pianist, Marcus Roberts, the phenomenal drummer Jason Marsalis, and gifted bassist Rodney Jordan
The Marcus Roberts Trio is known for its virtuosic style and entirely new approach to jazz trio performance. While most jazz trios have the piano front and center, all members of the Marcus Roberts Trio share equally in shaping the direction of the music by changing its tempo, mood, texture, or form at any time. And they do this with lightning quick musical reflexes and creative imagination. The trio is known for having almost telepathic communication on the stage. And more than a few concert goers have been heard to say that it sounds like a lot more than three people up there on the stage!
The Marcus Roberts Trio believes in 'letting the music take over' and the result is a powerfully rhythmic and melodic sound that is filled with rhythmic, harmonic, and dynamic contrast. One of the most enjoyable aspects of watching this trio perform is that it is so evident that these three musicians are really having fun playing together and listening to each other.
"One way Roberts individualizes his sound is by utilizing orchestral devices initially borrowed from the Ahmad Jamal Trio. In the course of a single piece, he constantly modulates grooves, tempos and keys, plays separate time signatures with the right hand and the left, and, as he puts it, "flips around the roles of the piano, bass and drums by giving everyone an equal opportunity to develop the concepts and themes, to change the form, to get us where we're getting ready to go." Ted Panken, Jazziz Magazine
Added to the logic and balanced trio style of Ahmad Jamal, is the swing and virtuosity of the Oscar Peterson Trio, combined with the buoyant joyous sound of Erroll Garner. These influences provide a rich foundation for the ever evolving and expanding sound of the Marcus Roberts Trio. The musical cues combine with musical inspiration from all over the world, which guarantees that audiences never know where this trio is heading; influences from Africa, Europe, and South Amerca are combined with American traditions to give this group an infinite palate of styles, timbres and colors to draw from.
Jazz bassist, Rodney Jordan, is a native of Memphis, Tennessee. He grew up playing bass in church and like Marcus Roberts, these roots are are the foundation for his rich and soulful sound. Jordan went on to study classical upright bass at Jackson State University. This training led him to positions as Assistant Principal Bassist and Principal Bassist with leading state and regional orchestras in Mississippi and Georgia. While living in Atlanta, Jordan became one of the city's most sought-after jazz bassists, performing and recording with some of America's finest jazz musicians, including Marcus Printup, Mulgrew Miller, James Williams, Milt Jackson, George Coleman, and Russell Gunn. Jordan joined the faculty at Florida State University in 2001, where he now serves as an Associate Professor of Jazz Studies. It was there that Jordan and Roberts first played together, while working to train young aspiring musicians. In 2009, Jordan took over the bass chair in Roberts' trio and he quickly became known for his virtuosity, quick reflexes, and musical wit. His hard-swinging style has earned him the nickname Rodney "Swing" Jordan. Jordan is a perfect fit for Roberts' melodic, blues-based, rhythmically syncopated improvisational group style. He has also been instrumental to the training of many of the younger musicians in the Modern Jazz Generation, a 10—12 piece band featuring three generations of jazz musicians. Jordan is a gifted and generous teacher who is respected by all. He has been featured on all of Roberts' recordings since 2009, including the most recent, Trio Crescent: Celebrating Coltrane. He released his own CD as a leader, Playing Jazz, in 2017.
Drummer Jason Marsalis is the youngest son of pianist and music educator Ellis Marsalis. At age seven, he was sitting in with his father's jazz group and progressed so rapidly as a drummer that his father started using him for some of his own engagements. Shortly after graduation from New Orleans Center for Creative Arts in 1995, Marsalis joined a new trio lead by virtuoso pianist Marcus Roberts, while furthering his educational goals at Loyola University in New Orleans. In 2008, Marsalis began playing vibraphone and touring with his vibes quartet. At the same time, Marsalis has remained an instrumental member of the Marcus Roberts Trio. His skill at the drum set has been a critical part of the sound and philosophy of the trio for many years, and, in fact, he has been featured on all of Roberts' recordings for almost 25 years. During that same time period, he continued to release his own recordings both on vibes and on drums. His most recent recording, Melody Reimagined, Book 1, was critically acclaimed in the jazz world. In recent years, Marsalis has also become increasingly known for his own educational contributions. He frequently teaches at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts and he is a key member of The Modern Jazz Generation group, helping to train many of the younger musicians in the band.