Roland Pembroke Hanna was born on February 10, 1932 in Detroit, Michigan. Hanna began his musical education at an early age from his father, who was a minister and saxophonist. While still a young child, Roland received piano lessons from a local teacher named Ms. Josephine Love. At the age of eleven, he began to study classical music and further gained knowledge about the fundamentals of the piano.
Hanna was introduced to jazz as a boy by a friend and fellow aspiring pianist, Tommy Flanagan, and he has cited pianists Art Tatum and Hank Jones as his earliest musical influences.
Coming of age on Detroit's active local jazz scene, Roland began to perform with several musicians in the area including pianists Barry Harris and Woody Anderson while still a student at Detroit's Cass Technical High School. In high school, he expanded his musical education by doubling on the alto saxophone.
Upon graduating from high school, Hanna enlisted in the United States Army where he spent two years performing with the United States Army Band. Upon his discharge in 1951, Roland began to perform with trumpeter Thad Jones at the Blue Bird Inn club in Detroit. Shortly after, he began to study at the Eastman School of Music, but only stayed from 1953 to 1954, and left in frustration that he was not allowed to play jazz there. Hanna returned home to Detroit for a brief time and shortly after he married Ramona Woodard.
In 1955, Hanna moved to New York City in order to enroll at the prestigious Juilliard School of Music. While a student at Juilliard, Roland was hired by clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman to perform at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, and he also joined him on a European tour that ended at the Brussel's World's Fair in Belgium. The same year, he began to appear regularly with tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins on the television program Art Ford's Jazz Party.
Sir Roland Hanna At The Village Vanguard
"A Story Often Told But Seldom Heard" (R.Hanna)
George Mraz - bass
Mel Lewis - drums
Lee Konitz sits out on that one.