Detroit native Roland Pembrooks Hanna (b. 2/10/1932; d. 11/13/2002) began his professional career in 1958 when he joined Benny Goodman’s band for a concert in Belgium. The conservatoire-trained pianist provided his services to Sarah Vaughan, Al Hibbler, Carmen McRae, the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra and Charles Mingus. In 1970, President William Tubman of Liberia honored Hanna with knighthood for humanitarian services — henceforth, Sir Roland Hanna.
Sir Roland Hanna belonged to a rarified group of pianists which includes Hank Jones, Barry Harris, Tommy Flanagan, and Mulgrew Miller. These players have in common an urbanity and grace unbridled. Each is fluent in all styles and genres before stamping music with his own indelible character. No where is this better heard than when Sir Roland, in particular, performs solo, as he does on Everything I Love, recorded shortly before his death. It's one of two recordings Hanna made for IPO Recordings as their inaugural set of three releases (the remaining two are Sir Roland Hanna and Carrie Smith, I’ve Got a Right to Sing The Blues ; and Dubravka Tomsic, A Liszt Recital ).
Hanna drinks deep and provides an expansive breadth of the canon of American song. He offers a liberal sprinkling of Cole Porter with the title cut and a very balladic "You’d Be So Nice to Come Home To." Two Sondheim chestnuts in "Comedy Tonight" and "Send in the Clowns" grace the package, each played with sensitivity and resourcefulness. The highpoint of the recording is Hanna’s own "Bags—A Tribute" which exists as a set of thrilling variations on Milt’s Jackson’s "Bag’s Groove."
Sir Roland Hanna has left behind a beautiful love letter in the form of Everything I Love. We are blessed that he thought of us before leaving.
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr
I met Erroll Garner at The Theatrical Grill in Cleveland a few hours before our family was to see him on stage at Severance Hall. That was 45 years ago and I was only 15! I spotted him nearby in a booth wearing a beautiful tux with a great white napkin draped over him! I was a little nervous as I approached him (he was eating shrimp cocktail) and said, Mr. Garner, I love playing the piano... is there any advice you could give me?'' He hesitated, then looked back at me and said, Keep playin' and don't stop!'' That was great advice because at 60 years old, I'm still playin' and haven't stopped!