Sir Roland Hanna was a master painter trapped in a pianist's body. He held the piano like a mink brush, and handled phrases like brush strokes. His work is creative, and spontaneous. And yet, Roland is not largely known by the mainstream flock.
Hanna was a classically trained prodigy, and later studied at Julliard. Roland Hanna worked with most every great player in New York during the "golden era." Working with Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and the Thad Jones Orchestra in his career. As a professor, he was intelligent, and educated. As a player he was brilliant.
On albums where Hanna appears with other well-known musicians, like The New York Jazz Quartet In Concert In Japan (1975), or Stephane Grappelli Meets the Rhythm Section (1974), he gently commands the group with surety. However, even though Hanna was a skilled group player, it is in his solo playing that he touches something miraculous. On albums like Informal Solo (1974), or Bird Tracks: Remembering Charlie Parker (1978), Roland dabbles in pure magic. His overheard grunts and groans give the strong sense of introspection. In Hanna's music, listeners can expect to witness the purest form of spontaneous music creation.
After graduating from Cass Tech, Hanna entered the Army and spent two years playing with the United States Army Band. Upon his release, he entered the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, but he stayed only a year, from 1953 to 1954, frustrated that he was not permitted to play jazz there. He returned home to Detroit and entered the Juilliard School in New York in 1955. Prior to entering Juilliard he married Ramona Woodard. While at Juilliard, Hanna was recruited to play in Benny Goodman's band for a European tour and a 1958 performance at the Newport Jazz Festival. That same year he also began appearing regularly with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on the television program Art Ford's Jazz Party, and he played intermittently with bassist Charles Mingus. Hanna took a leave from his studies to pursue these opportunities, but he returned to school and graduated in 1960. Upon graduation he served as accompanist to vocalists Sarah Vaughan and Al Hibbler. In the meantime, Hanna released a solo recording, Roland Hanna Plays Harold Rome's 'Destry Rides Again,' and Easy to Love, which was recorded with his trio, including Ben Tucker on bass and Roy Burns on drums. Both albums were released in 1959 on the Atco label.
Hanna spent the next decade focusing on live performance and ensemble work, leading trios that played such lauded clubs as New York's Five Spot. He also replaced his old friend Tommy Flanagan in Hawkins's quartet, and in 1964 he toured Japan with a quartet that included trombonist Thad Jones. In 1966 Hanna began his longstanding association with the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra. His work with the group was critically lauded but brought him little commercial success or prospects for work as a solo artist. It did, however, bring him one of the honors he most cherished. In response to several solo concerts in Liberia that raised $100,000 for the education of that country's children, the Liberian government knighted Hanna in 1970. From then on he became known as Sir Roland Hanna.
Hanna begins the song with a slowly ascending melody that erupts into a powerful chordal statement complete with low bass notes and robust sounding voicings. Roland fills the air with a sentimental atmosphere that is only enhanced throughout the song. After three minutes, he begins a walking bass-like passage that segues into a heartfelt sounding declaration that helps to serve the overall emotional arc of the song. Hanna ends the song by allowing the piano to sustain where it slowly drifts off, ending a highly emotional statement.
Throughout his later career, Hanna remained a committed and influential teacher at the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College. On Wednesday, November 13, 2002, Roland died after to a viral infection of the heart in Hackensack, New Jersey, he was seventy years old. Shortly after, Queens College organized a memorial concert in his honor where his friend and colleague tenor saxophonist Jimmy Heath performed.
Roland Hanna(P) Recorded：France, 1974 Album："Roland Hanna /Solo Piano"