Marcus Roberts, Assistant Professor of Jazz Studies, is widely known as one of the preeminent American jazz pianists of his generation.
Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards and competitions, including the 1982 Young Artist’s Award at the National Association of Jazz Educators’ conference and the Helen Keller Award for Personal Achievement in 1998.
During the first fifteen years of his career, he completed over thirty recordings; and all, whether solo piano, with trio, big band, or symphony orchestra, have been critically acclaimed. His 1996 recording, Portraits in Blue, was the first to showcase the art of jazz improvisation within a traditional classical setting, and he continues to pursue new ways to bring the sounds of jazz and classical music together.
Mr. Roberts is an active jazz educator who has developed numerous outreach and residency programs for children of all ages. He has been instrumental to the training and development of a number of young musicians, including such great jazz artists as trumpeters Marcus Printup and Nicholas Payton, trombonist Ronald Westray, and drummer Jason Marsalis.
One of Roberts’ greatest achievements is the creation of an entirely new approach to jazz trio performance. This approach relies on all musicians sharing equally in shaping the direction of the music through changing its tempo, mood, texture, or form by using a system of musical cues and flexible forms. Their quick musical reflexes and creative imagination give Roberts’ trio a style that is powerful, rhythmic, and free.
Roberts’ recent honors include receiving a commissioning award from Chamber Music America, producing a Franco-American celebration of Louis Armstrong, and serving as an Artist-in-Residence for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. Roberts has had a long and enjoyable collaborative relationship with Maestro Seiji Ozawa (formerly of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), performing under his direction on many occasions. Their most recent collaboration was for the 2003 European premiere of Roberts’ new arrangement of Gershwin’s “Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra” with the Berlin Philharmonic at their annual Waldbühne concert. Professor Roberts received his B.A. degree from Florida State University.