New Orleans Meets Harlem, Vol. 1 underscores this history, but the album is not merely a tribute. With each of the classic songs that Roberts performs with his trio (consisting of bassist Roland Guerin and drummer Jason Marsalis), the old melodies are played with a fresh approach that is consistent with the piano jazz tradition by blending old and new.
The first track, Jelly Roll Morton’s “New Orleans Blues,” begins steeped in the buoyant sounds of early jazz, with a hint of a backbeat. The trio engages in some polyrhythmic interplay, and the piece eventually morphs into a more modern-sounding blues for two choruses. The bass and drums drop out, and Roberts plays a stride-like passage that transitions into a New Orleans second line feel.
New Orleans Meets Harlem, Vol. 1 is a great album for those interested in jazz history, but is just as enjoyable for those who aren’t. Regardless of the historical context, Marcus Robert’s trio plays with a constant sense of excitement, humor, and the blues.
March 31st on J-Master Records
- Marcus Roberts – Piano
- Roland Guerin – Bass
- Jason Marsalis – Drums
- New Orleans Blues (Jelly Roll Morton)
- Jitterbug Waltz (Fats Waller)
- The Entertainer (Scott Joplin)
- Pie Eyes Blues (Duke Ellington)
- Jungle Blues (Jelly Roll Morton)
- Black and Tan Fantasy (Duke Ellington)
- Ain't Misbehavin (Fats Waller)
- Honeysuckle Rose (Jelly Roll Morton)
- A Real Slow Drag (Scott Joplin)
- In Walked Bud (Thelonious Monk)
- Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are (Thelonious Monk)
- Searching for the Blues (Marcus Roberts)