Hanna re-emerged in the 1990s as a solo artist with a greater focus on his work as a composer. He performed his original composition, "Oasis," as well as the work of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin with the Eastman Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Symphony Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, D.C., and at a homecoming concert with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Hanna also played classical cello on some of these compositions. In addition, Hanna wrote scores for dance performances, including "My Name Is Jasmine, but They Call Me Jaz," for the BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio, and "Sonata for Piano and Violin," commissioned by the Library of Congress and performed by the Jazzdance dance troupe. In 2000 Hanna expanded the piece and it was performed by the New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble and the Sanford Allen Chamber Ensemble.
Hanna remained a committed teacher of music throughout his career and at the time of his death, due to a viral infection of the heart, in November of 2002, he was on the faculty of Queens College in New York. The school organized a memorial concert in his honor. Hanna always remained true to his belief that music was a pure form of human expression. "Music is more than just something for people who have money and who want to be amused, to go and listen to," he told Crescendo International. "To me, music is a sort of a help-mate for human beings to get through life with; it's a valve for us to release some of the pressure that builds up. We need it—not as sheer entertainment, but because we may not exist if it weren't here."
Sir Roland was a pianist who performed solo; contributed meaningfully to orchestras, bands, and small groups; and provided sensitive, sympathetic accompaniment to such artists as the late Sarah Vaughn (for whom he was musical director),Carmen McRae, and Al Hibbler. As a soloist, his finely tuned sense of time and Rock-of-Gibraltar left hand enabled him to create, without assistance, performances of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic excitement. As an ensemble player, his individuality displayed musical talent that had been honed and refined with years of experience. His experience included almost every aspect of music and occurred in such disparate contexts as The Benny Goodman Big Band, Charles Mingus experimental groups, The Eastman Symphony Orchestra, The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, The New York Jazz Quartet, The American Composers Orchestra, The Lincoln Center and Smithsonian Jazz Orchestras, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and The National Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to an active itinerary that carried him to major clubs and auditoriums throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, the 1990’s provided the opportunity to return to his native Detroit as guest soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in performance of his composition, “Oasis,” a work for piano and orchestra. Previous performances of this work included its premiere by the Eastman Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Symphony Orchestra of Norrkoping. He also performed Duke Ellington’s “New World a comin’” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” as featured soloist with The National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. The pianist and composer was the honouree of the 23rd annual Paradise Valley Jazz party in Phoenix, Arizona on April 15 and 16, 2000.
Album : Everything I Love (2002)