Marcus Roberts Trio
Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola
Wednesday, July 22
You should see this place, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, up yonder at **Jazz at** Lincoln Center, first of all just to behold the not-too-distant future of venue-naming (five years from now Tiny Masters of Today will be headlining Kurt Cobain Drink Mountain Dew or We’ll Kill You Arena), but more importantly to regard the view behind the band onstage, looking down on Central Park and, at the 7:30 p.m. show at least, slowly, romantically darkening from broad daylight to sunset. This is alarmingly idyllic, and only more so with a telepathic piano trio lustily dialing up “East of the Sun (And West of the Moon).”
Marcus Roberts’ latest, New Orleans Meets Harlem Vol. 1, is fairly self-expanatory, bowing to both Jelly Roll Morton and Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin and Fats Waller. His trio is rounded out by Roland Guerin on bass (Rodney Jordan’s filling in on these dates, though) and Jason Marsalis on drums, a 14-year-old unit that still sometimes creates the impression that Marcus is auditioning them in real time, abruptly ordering up solos as though they’re quarterback audibles, playfully cutting up melodies with rhythmic leaps, gasps, pregnant pauses. Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” starts slow, gorgeous, and almost childlike, a simple melody walking down and then backup the keyboard, then in both directions at once, before spiralling off into tightly plotted chaos.
This is preferable to just starting straight out with tightly plotted chaos, as on Herbie Hancock’s “One Finger Snap,” expert but also sorta exhausting. For you, not for them. Marsalis is very prim, his torrents of rimshots executed with flawless posture (“He’s got a nerd walk,” notes my Brother Thelonious-swilling companion), whereas Jordan slumps over deceptively, hanging back only to tear into “Honeysuckle Rose” like he’s the dude on the marquee. Which DCC-C doesn’t really have, but with a view like that, doesn’t need.
Roberts is playing there through Sunday.