Sir Roland Hanna
was one of the major artists in jazz and one of the most flexible pianists of any generation. Born in Detroit Michigan, Roland began private piano studies with Ms. Josephine Love at an early age. After graduation from Cass Technical High School and a two-year stint in the US Army, he continued his musical studies at the Eastman and Juilliard Schools of Music. He then followed with a mega-mile career journey, performing in concert halls and clubs in the major cities of the world. He was knighted, in 1970, by then President William V.S. Tubman of Liberia for humanitarian services to that country.
A Wide Range of Accomplishment: Sir Roland was a pianist who performed solo; contributed meaningfully to orchestras, bands, and small groups; and provided sensitive, sympathetic accompaniment to such artists as the late Sarah Vaughn (for whom he was musical director),Carmen McRae, and Al Hibbler. As a soloist, his finely tuned sense of time and Rock-of-Gibraltar left hand enabled him to create, without assistance, performances of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic excitement. As an ensemble player, his individuality displayed musical talent that had been honed and refined with years of experience. His experience included almost every aspect of music and occurred in such disparate contexts as The Benny Goodman Big Band, Charles Mingus experimental groups, The Eastman Symphony Orchestra, The Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, The New York Jazz Quartet, The American Composers Orchestra, The Lincoln Center and Smithsonian Jazz Orchestras, The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and The National Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to an active itinerary that carried him to major clubs and auditoriums throughout the United States, Europe and Japan, the 1990’s provided the opportunity to return to his native Detroit as guest soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in performance of his composition, “Oasis,” a work for piano and orchestra. Previous performances of this work included its premiere by the Eastman Symphony Orchestra and the Swedish Symphony Orchestra of Norrkoping. He also performed Duke Ellington’s “New World a comin’” and George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” as featured soloist with The National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, DC. The pianist and composer was the honouree of the 23rd annual Paradise Valley Jazz party in Phoenix, Arizona on April 15 and 16, 2000. …