This Wednesday evening, Bowdoin students and members of the Brunswick community will have the opportunity to hear the highly renowned and beautifully innovative jazz of the Marcus Roberts Trio.

The trio consists of Roberts on the piano, Rodney Jordan on bass and Jason Marsalis on the drums.

Since Roberts' youth, jazz has been an integral part of his life. After losing his sight at the age of five, Roberts began teaching himself to play the piano. Soon thereafter, he began playing every Sunday at the local Baptist Church. It wasn't until hearing the music of jazz masters Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and Mary Lou Williams that this passion for music transformed into a passion for jazz.

Roberts broke onto the jazz scene in 1985 and has since then risen to the top of the jazz piano world as a collaborator and as a solo artist.

His style is authentic—unlike many modern jazz pianists, Roberts continues to pay homage to jazz standards through his playing. He has become known for mastering the classic old-time jazz piano style known as stride piano, during which the player uses his left hand to lay down a bass-line pulse, while his right hand improvises melodically on the higher end of the keyboard.

This style, not coincidentally, is highly associated with the jazz of New Orleans, a style that Roberts, born in Florida himself, has certainly become well acquainted with.

Perhaps in an attempt to affect the future of jazz through modification and reinterpretation of the genre's past, much of Roberts's body of work can be characterized as a collage of past jazz styles.

While many new age jazz pianists have departed from older styles of jazz piano, Roberts embraces the roots of the genre. He stays relevant, however, by employing many other techniques in his playing as well, many of which are radical departures from classic jazz styles.

His ability to understand and interpret the work of jazz piano great Thelonious Monk, known for playing atypical dissonant melodies and eclectic rhythms, suggests that he is able to play comfortably outside the normal family of jazz standards. After all, much of the new age jazz around today stems from interpretations and reinventions of Monk's revolutionary work on the piano.

Robert's respect for and emulation of a plethora of classic jazz styles and artists comes through in his playing; the listener can hear the influences of not just Monk, but also of legends like Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton.

For Bowdoin jazz enthusiasts, the opportunity to host the Marcus Roberts Jazz Trio is one not to miss.

"Marcus Roberts's inexhaustible creativity has already inspired generations of musicians, even at his young age," jazz pianist and music lover Hassan Muhammad '10 said. "I distinctly remember hearing him for the first time as a teenager on Wynton Marsalis's album "Marsalis Standard Time."

Like any great artist, his unique style broadened my sense of what was possible in jazz piano. It will be an honor and a pleasure to have an artist of this caliber visiting Bowdoin."

Lizzy Tarr '12 echoes Muhammad's excitement, pointing to the Marcus Roberts Trio concert she attended this past summer in New York City.

"Listening to them is what you've always been told jazz should be. It's the chemistry between the three of them. There's a fluidity between their solos that carries through the entire evening."

"So often concerts are about the performer as an icon but this was all about the music," she added. "Every concert-goer was completely captivated and I think that intimacy will translate really well for a Bowdoin audience in Studzinski."

The Marcus Roberts Jazz Trio's performance has been sponsored by the Donald M. Zuckert Visiting Professorship Fund.

The concert is Wednesday, February 10th, at 7:30 PM in Studzinski Recital Hall. It is free for Bowdoin students and $15 otherwise.