I don't recall who told me about Hank Roberts, or why I wrote down both his name and the 1970 band Gentle Giant. I wonder if they are connected in some way, but my initial look at Wickepedia didn't give any clues. Gentle Giant was formed from the music of three Scottish-Jewish brothers who lived in Portsmouth, England. Hank Roberts is an American electric cellist about ten years younger than the brothers and said to have 'emerged with the New York Downtown jazz scene in the 1980's.'
'Ultimate Music Store' labels Roberts as part of the jazz genre and has his album With Marc Ducret & Jim Black-Green posted and available for a pre-listen. I'm listening to it now. Mr.Roberts covers quite a range of musical ground I'm not quite sure how to label... blues, funk, experimental, folk, pretty, ugly, bracing, soothing, out-there, intricate classical string voicing, wailing guitar chops, contemporary extended technique, quirky, jarring... clearly a cellist with ears for a wide expanse of stylings and meaning.
"In the early '80s he made a number of recordings for the defunct JMT label, was a featured member of the Bill
Frisell Quartet, and was an important voice in many groups of saxophonist Tim Berne. He also recorded three discs with the Arcado String Trio, an improvisational chamber group featuring Mark Feldman, violin, and Mark Dresser, double bass. In the early '90s he left Frisell's group and stopped touring widely. Roberts continued to release recordings, if sporadically, including with the progressive folk group, Ti Ti Chickapea. In 2008 Roberts' was again touring and performing regularly, releasing Green (with Jim Black and Marc Ducret) on Winter & Winter, Stefan F. Winters subsequent label to JMT. In December 2011, Winter and Winter released Roberts'
Everything Is Alive, as well as re-releasing Roberts' entire JMT catalogue."
The photos on Mr.Roberts website are oddly familiar and I wonder if I've seen him perform somewhere. In London? No... where? Maybe I just looked him up once... but I never listened, and I think, that here is something any cellist can appreciate and learn from. Just listen to these reviews from his site! It was a good sticky note...
the American cellist [Hank Roberts] dares to present
magical musical field tests, which sound as delicate as a moribund musical box
or intoxicating emotional like a pop song. Grumpy, but yes, ingenious.“
January 10, 2012
Südkurier: “From the beginning this music opens the horizon. […] Since
the 80s Hank Roberts has achieved for his instrument […] a completely new
position that he keeps on strengthening. Genre limits are too narrow for him,
important is his own fusion of elements, which are brought together in an
Music full of air, lightness and delight in playing, characterized by
listening and reacting to each other, sustained by a natural sound and elevating
the listener to comforting spheres.” January 13, 2012