The Artists - Hank Roberts

Hank Roberts – American cello player, vocalist, composer and educator, born March 24 1954 in Indiana – was part of Thomas Agergaard's Octet at the JAZZPAR 2002 Event.

Roberts has played the cello since he was ten. Parallel with classical lessons on the cello, he played the trombone, intent on becoming a jazz artist. He also taught himself guitar and piano.
   Throughout his teenage years, Hank played in orchestras, concert bands, jazz ensembles and rock and soul groups. He moved to Boston when he was 19. His goal was to become an improvisational cellist and composer. After a short period at Berklee, Roberts took a day job while exploiting any opportunity of playing cello.
   During the 80s, Hank Roberts settled in New York City, where he became an integral part of the avant-garde music community. He became co-leader of Miniature (with Joey Baron and Tim Berne) and Arcado (with Marc Dresser and Mark Feldman) and lead his own band, Birds Of Prey. As a leader and sideman, Hank Roberts has toured extensively throughout US, Canada, Europe and Japan.
   He performs widely as a solo artist as well as with The Hank Roberts Trio. He has also contributed to numerous recordings by Bill Frisell, Tim Berne, Alex Cline, Marilyn Crispell, Andy Summers, David Sanborn, Joey Baron, and many others.
   Two times Hank Roberts has won Down Beat’s International Critics’ Poll and he has undoubtedly helped raise the cello to a new level of importance in contemporary music. His approach embraces a wide range of musical styles. Afrocentric musics, lyrical folk-rock, R&B, classical music, and a passion for spontaneous improvisation are important elements in his music. Hank loves the cross-cultural, soul-language dance with the cello and voice, as well as the feeling of transformation, revelation and the instant realization and enactment of ideas.
   His improvisations encompass funk ostinatos, folk melodies, rich romanticism and slightly skewed bluegrass and jazz with dazzling inventiveness, employing every aspect of his instrument’s vocabulary. His all-embracing creative imagination sifts through the best elements of classical music and jazz, and presents it in new ways.
   Hank Roberts strums, plucks and bows his way through an incredible array of sounds. In turn far-out and spacy, earthy and natural. It’s the sound of urban jazz lofts, but also Irish firesides. Roberts dazzles the listener with sonic ferocity and moves easily between jazz rhythms, tribal beats and classically influenced passages. Roberts is willing to overlook the usual boundaries between jazz and progressive music. He adds adventure, color and unpredictability to any session.

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