Bryn Roberts

Bryn Roberts

November 21, Thursday
8:00 PM – $20
cash at the door or call 613-729-0693 for advance purchase by credit card

Bryn Roberts – piano, Seamus Blake – saxophones,
Matt Penman – bass, Jochen Rueckert – drums.

Bryn Roberts returns to making his own, lyrical music “Pianist Bryn Roberts composes long, lyrical jazz melodies – memorable ones which are expressed through all the musicians in his quartet. You can hear them in his just-released third album,Fables – and when he appears with his all-star quartet at GigSpace on Thursday. That show will feature selections from Fables, as well as older compositions, some standards, and a few surprises”. Nov 19/13 read article at

Six questions for Bryn Roberts  This week, Roberts, 36, begins a long overdue and self-financed swing through Canada, touring in support of Fables with Blake, bassist Matt Penman and drummer Jochen Rueckert, beginning with shows Friday and Saturday at the Cellar Jazz Club in Eventually and eventually gigs at GigSpace in Ottawa on Nov. 21 ” Peter Hum JazzBlog Nov/13  read full article click here

“Roberts is a gifted improviser who isn’t afraid to take chances…”  All About Jazz

“As an improvising musician, playing and touring with musicians who aren’t at all involved with improvisation can be a challenge, but it’s something that’s taught me a lot,” says Bryn Roberts. “Sometimes a simple, beautifully constructed song performed really well is enough on it’s own that it doesn’t require much elaboration. It’s nice to have a musical skill set from years of playing jazz that lets me adapt to different situations, but after a while work solely as a sideman in a songwriter context starts to feel limiting. I wanted to have a vehicle more specifically for my own music and playing, and that’s what inspired me to record this new CD. I like to think that there is a melodic directness to my new compositions that reflects some of what I’ve picked up from working with more mainstream artists.

Fables marks a welcome return to Roberts’ roots as a composer and improviser on the jazz scene after 5 years spent as a busy sideman in the more mainstream music world. He is an introspective, understated and lyrical pianist, and an inventive composer and arranger with a personal sound who has assembled a band of accomplished collaborators to bring this collection of new music to life: Seamus Blake on saxophones, Orlando LeFleming on bass and Johnathan Blake on drums. Roberts penned six new compositions for this latest effort, and the album is rounded out by his take on two standard songs from the American songbook.

Roberts was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and moved to New York City in 2001 after studying in Montreal. He quickly made a name for himself in a wide variety of musical contexts, playing with such contemporaries as Seamus Blake, Alan Ferber, Will Vinson, Lage Lund, Rodney Green, John Ellis, Kendrick Scott, Chris Cheek, Jon Gordon, Jonathan Kreisberg and vocalists Melba Joyce and Gloria Reuben. He has recorded several CDs with the acclaimed Alan Ferber Nonet, (the latest of which, Chamber Songs, features one of his compositions) and has also released two critically-acclaimed CDs as a leader: Present Tense and Ludlow (Fresh Sound/New Talent).

Several years after arriving on the New York jazz scene, his talents were also sought out by
prominent artists in the folk, pop, and rock world including Dar Williams, Serena Ryder, Rumer, Kevn Kinney (of Drivin’ N Cryin’) and Malaysian popstar Yuna. “Getting involved in more mainstream music wasn’t necessarily a conscious choice, it was just something that I got into just from being around a varied group of musicians in New York who inspired me,” says Roberts.

“I’ve always loved many kinds of music, and after putting out two albums as a leader, I was open to some different musical possibilities.” Roberts’ diverse talents have led him to venues all over the United States, Canada, the UK and Europe both as a leader and a sideman, including gigs at Carnegie Hall, The Montreal Jazz Festival, Oslo Jazz Festival, Edinburgh Festival, the Town Hall and Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble in Woodstock.

Though Roberts never stopped playing his own music, his busy schedule as a sideman left little time to pursue his own projects. Spurred on by colleagues in the New York jazz community who had raved about his previous efforts as a bandleader, Roberts assembled a team of superb musicians with a strong group dynamic that would help to realize his thoughtful and compelling music.

“For me it’s an honor that these musicians are not only collaborators at the top of their game in the jazz world, but they are close friends,” says Roberts. “I’ve known Seamus Blake since 1998 when I was living in Montreal and he used to come up and play club gigs. We’ve been playing together since 2000. He was an important part of my last two recordings, and I knew for Fables I needed his beautiful sound, killing time and amazing melodic gifts to give the compositions the lift that they deserved to really come alive.”  Seamus soars on Fables, playing full-bodied solos throughout, especially right out of the gate on “Corlear’s Hook”.

The composition is a paean to the southernmost tip of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Bryn’s home for the last few years: “It’s now a public park,” Roberts mentions, “but it used to be a location infamous for piracy and crime in the late nineteenth century. I’ve always been fascinated by New York City history, and that place has such a storied and seedy past; I wanted to pay tribute to it somehow”. Seamus spins sinewy soprano lines and melodies on “Nightsong” (inspired by a Robert Schumann piece with the same name) and brings his introspective lyricism to the CD’s intimate duo with Roberts, “The Invention Of Writing” (a setting of a poem by Robin Chapman, a Wisconsin writer Roberts met during a winter music residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts).

The rhythm section also shines on the album’s two trio outings, which reflect Roberts’ affection for the American songbook: Cole Porter’s “In the Still of the Night” and Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn’s “Guess I’ll Hang My Tears Out to Dry”. “I have always loved playing standards, it’s really how I learned to play,” says Roberts. “From my earliest experiences being thrust into situations on the bandstand with more experienced players when I was coming up in Montreal, we were always playing standards, and that of course was the best way to learn.

I love that these songs are so well-crafted melodically and harmonically, and yet are flexible enough that players throughout history can put their own stamp on them.” Roberts brings his own contemporary approach to the arrangement of Porter, adding a swirling tag and some tricky unison bass and piano reharmonization of the final section. The album closes with Roberts’s arrangement of the Styne/Cahn tune, a bittersweet finale to an album that runs the gamut from contemporary to classic.

The thoughtfulness of his compositions, the virtuosity and interplay of his able sidemen, his expressive touch at the piano and his searching improvisations all show that Roberts’ return to the jazz world as a leader has been long overdue. Fables is Roberts’ first record in almost nine years, but it is worth the wait; the new CD should place Roberts shoulder-to-shoulder with his contemporaries on the international jazz stage.