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Marcus Roberts: The Joy of Joplin

Marcus Roberts

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Album Review

This is an odd solo piano recital by Marcus Roberts that is sure to upset ragtime purists. Instead of really conveying "the joy of Scott Joplin," Roberts merely uses some of the ragtime composer's melodies as vehicles for his own improvising. The results are often quite jarring, as Roberts feels free to change notes in the themes, alter the speeds, and just use chordal improvising. In addition to eight of Joplin's songs, Roberts contributed eight of his own that mostly have little to do with the structure of ragtime. Hearing his renditions of "The Entertainer," "Maple Leaf Rag," and "The Easy Winners" is analogous to hearing a classical pianist "take off" on a Beethoven symphony, playing spontaneously whatever he thinks fits. This CD is therefore only for listeners with very selective tastes.

Biography

Born: 07 August 1963 in Jacksonville, FL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts is a technically gifted pianist who focuses on older, pre-1950 traditional styles with little if any ties to such modern touchstones as McCoy Tyner, Ahmad Jamal, and Bill Evans. He has some Thelonious Monk influence, especially in his phrasing, but Roberts' models have predominantly been Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller. While his earliest...
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