Roland 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.
In addition to his performance and recording endeavors, Sir Roland was also a prolific writer. His writings display the same talent, creativity, and versatility demonstrated in his performances. A catalogue of over 400 compositions include not only works for standard jazz ensembles recorded by him and other recognised jazz artists, it also includes trios for cello, flute, and french horn, as well as larger works for piano and orchestra. Sir Roland’s writing incorporates a mixture of jazz and classical elements: a style often referred to as Classical Jazz. His works also include a jazz ballet for jazz orchestra and strings, commissioned by the BalletMet of Columbus, Ohio and choreographed by Graciela Daniele. The ballet, “My name Is Jasmine But They Call Me Jaz,” had its premiere at the Ohio Theatre in that city in April 1992 and continued as part of the company’s repertoire. A four-movement “Sonata For Chamber Trio and Jazz Piano,” was recorded on Angel Records in 1994; and, in l996 His “Sonata For Piano and Violin,” commissioned by The Library Of Congress, premiered in Washington, DC, choreographed by Danny Buraczeski and the Jazzdance dance troupe. Expanded in 2000 to include cello, the work was performed by the New York Philomusica Chamber Ensemble and the Sanford Allen Chamber Ensemble.
Born on February 10, 1932, in Detroit, MI; died on November 13, 2002, in Hackensack, NJ; married Ramona Woodard, 1954; children: Michael, Christopher, Cheryl, and Cheri. Education: Attended Eastman School of Music, 1953-54; graduated from the Juilliard School, 1960.
Began playing piano, age 11; introduced to jazz as student at Detroit's Cass Technical High School; began playing with Benny Goodman while at Juilliard; supported Coleman Hawkins, Charles Mingus, Sarah Vaughan; released first solo album, Roland Hanna Plays Harold Rome's 'Destry Rides Again,' 1959; joined Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, 1966; formed New York Jazz Sextet (later New York Jazz Quartet), 1974; recorded and composed, 1980s; performed several compositions with noted symphonies, 1990s; became a tenured professor at Queens College, New York City.
Sir Roland Hanna Trio - Portrait Of John Lewis
Milano, Paris, New York: Finding John Lewis / April,2002
Sir Roland Hanna (p)
George Mraz (b)
Lewis Nash (ds)