Digging Deeper Into The Shed – Marcus Roberts’ Suite Turns 20

The weekend of February 20th brought pianist Marcus Roberts back to his home base of Tallahassee, Florida. He did not travel alone however. Accompanying him for a special live performance and recording session included Wes “Warmdaddy” Anderson (alto) , Marcus Printup (trumpet) , Stephen Riley (tenor) , Ron Westray (trombone) , Jason Marsalis (drums), and Rodney Jordan (bass). This world-class line-up welcomed two promising FSU undergrads to the band stand: Ricardo Pascal (tenor) and Alphonso Horne (trumpet).

I sat through both sets of the show at TCC on the evening of the 20th which both featured the same material. It cannot be said which set was more impressive or moving, for each piece left such an impression and level of humbleness that I was under a hypnotic state the entire evening.

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the recording, “Deep In The Shed”, Marcus was extremely thrilled to bring the new caliber of musicianship to a record which has always been a staple of the J-Masters career. The record is based around the blues form and all of its variations whether it be moving around key centers or extending its length. One particular tune, perhaps the most challenging to play on the record entitled “E. Dankworth” involves an improvisational section in all 12 key centers  and a technically intimidating “head” melody. It was during this piece in particular that the entire band was able to trade solos following Marcus’ killin introduction vamp. Trading is essential to the communicative nature of jazz, this we know. To see the youthful fire of Pascal and Horne holding their own against Riley and Printup was by far some of the best junk I’ve caught in my time in Tallahassee. Please look right to check out some of the shots I took during the show.


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