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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby


Sir Roland Hanna


Ipo IPOC 1002



  1. Comedy Tonight
  2. Bags-A Tribute
  3. Lullaby of the Leaves
  4. I Hear a Rhapsody
  5. You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To
  6. Send in the Clowns
  7. In the Blue of the Evening
  8. All Blues
  9. Comes Autumn
  10. Embraceable You
  11. How Deep is the Ocean
  12. Alone Together
  13. Everything I Love

Sir Roland Hanna - Steinway Grand Piano

Unlike the ‘Kings’ and ‘Dukes’ of jazz Roland Hanna’s title is a real one, awarded by the Liberian Government in 1969, for a series of concerts he gave to provide money for humanitarian relief.

Roland is my kind of pianist, he has absorbed much of the developments of contemporary jazz, without losing touch with the roots of our great music. The fact that he was able to hold down the piano chair in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Band, is a testament to his musical ability. Only a few of their arrangements have ever been published, but most bands have found them very demanding. Roland took all that in his stride and was also one of the band’s outstanding soloists.

It is also a great pleasure to hear a quality acoustic piano, well recorded and played by someone with a total grasp of what can be achieved on such an instrument. Roland has a unique style, he is not trying to do an imitation of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson or anyone else, he delivers the songs the way he feels them.

The tune selection is inspired, I have never heard a jazz performance of Comedy Tonight, Sondheim’s opening theme from ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum’, in Roland’s hands it sounds a natural jazzer. Bags-A Tribute is of course a celebration of the music of the late Milt Jackson, who was a great friend. I enjoyed every track because instead of trying to dazzle us with his superb technique Roland plays wonderful two handed piano. Many jazz pianists only use the left hand to stab out chords, but here the left hand is sometimes ‘comping’ for the right, sometimes playing the bass line and sometimes the melody. Send in the Clowns, Lullaby of the Leaves and Alone Together are all good examples.

To adequately describe Sir Roland Hanna’s style would be difficult, it is an amalgam of everything that has gone before in jazz, but it has a very modern feel. He plays one original composition Comes Autumn, which demonstrates his adequate capability in the area of composition, but he does not fill the album up with tunes that are not in the same class as the ‘standard’ jazz library.

This is a fine solo performance on an excellent instrument, properly recorded and I strongly recommend it as an addition to anyone’s collection.

Don Mather


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