Trio with Orchestra
Of Roberts’ newest concerto, "Rhapsody in D for Piano and Orchestra":
“The piece begins with a dramatic orchestral statement that evokes the opening pages of Ravel's Piano Concerto for the Left Hand; segues into a lyric theme that's impossible to forget; surges forward with jazz-trio writing that exults in swing rhythm; …features an ineffably poetic piano cadenza; then races to the finish in a virtually seamless synthesis of jazz and classical traditions.”
- Howard Reich, Chicago Tribune
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.