Marcus Roberts took time from his teaching young musicians at UNO and performing at The Sandbar (Wednesday, April 15th) and Snug Harbor (Thursday, April 16th), to stop by WWOZ and talk about his new CD "New Orleans Meets Harlam, Volume 1".
This generous genius was incredibly forthcoming about how and why he arranged the tunes on this spectacular album the way he did, in part to utilize the great strengths of the other members of his trio: Roland Guerin on bass and Jason Marsalis on drums.
We played three tunes from the new album, "Honeysuckle Rose", "The Entertainer" and "Pie Eye Blues" --- and Marcus proceeded to explain why he chose different keys and tempos in the same tune. He stressed that Rag Time and New Orleans traditional jazz had an immediate impact on the jazz of Harlam, and as you listen to the songs and his arrangements, it is breathtaking how well the two worlds merge.
The album is magical. The superlative talents of all in the trio is matched by Marcus Roberts' clarity and vision. Within bars he and his trio transport you from Storyville to Sugarhill. It was a special 40 minutes and as Black Mold has said to me, as programmers we have "the best ring side seats" in America. It was a gift for me, just as he was for the audience at The Sandbar and Snug Harbor.