Marcus Roberts


Marcus Roberts in Braille.


Foundational quote for image generation:

“I met with the president, Peter Gelb. At that time he was president of Sony Classical and he asked me, what do you want to do? We need something different. And I said, well, I’d like to reimagine Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. And he was into it. He said, what are you going to do? I said, I want to use classical musicians and jazz musicians for this record.”

The image depicts a vibrant and dynamic canvas awash with bold blues, splashes of golden yellow, and pops of pink and white. Intertwined amidst this sea of colors are a myriad of music notes, symbols, and abstract designs that seem to swirl and dance around in an intricate choreography. The fluid strokes, blending of colors, and the lyrical quality of the depicted music notes evoke a sense of movement and rhythm, as if the painting itself is alive with the sounds of music.

In relation to the transcendent nature of music and jazz, the artwork masterfully captures the essence of how these musical forms move beyond mere sound and become a vivid, visceral experience. 

The intertwining of notes and colors can be seen as a metaphor for the intricate harmonies and improvisational nature of jazz, where each note is not just heard but felt deeply as a shared language that resonates across all of humanity, regardless of borders or backgrounds. 

It embodies emotions and experiences that are innately human, uniting us and broadening the scope of communication.


Foundational quote for image generation:

“… in those rare instances where not only do people connect, but they actually feel the same thing about each other and about themselves. Well, I call that moment a moment of communion, which means that we not only feel the same thing, we believe the same thing, and we have a trust and a symmetry that is elevating all of us at the same time.”

The image depicts two mesmerizing, dreamlike towns, lining opposite banks of a calm, mirror-like river. The landmasses on which the towns rest appear to have been split apart, leaving a chasm beneath the river. A fragile bridge, seemingly incomplete, connects the two sides. A few figures stand on this bridge, appearing to be in contemplation or conversation. High above, the sun casts a golden hue, illuminating the scene, while below, the river reflects the town, sky, and clouds perfectly.

As a metaphor, this visually arresting scene underscores the divisions that might exist between different groups of people, such as the blind and sighted communities. The chasm below the river suggests the depth of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge that can separate these groups. 

However, the bridge, though fragile and incomplete, signifies the potential for connection, dialogue, and understanding. The individuals on the bridge symbolize those who take the initiative to reach out, communicate, and bridge the gap of understanding.


Foundational quote for image generation:

“The goal of the project is to enlighten and broaden the scope of communication between groups of people who normally don’t communicate that well together.”

The image showcases two human profiles facing each other, poised in an intimate proximity. The profile on the left is rendered in vibrant, swirling colors that seem to be fluidly melded together, evoking feelings of unity and harmony. On the right, the profile seems to be disintegrating or transforming into a burst of colors, similar to an ink spill or a watercolor dispersion, suggesting a sense of vulnerability or change.

 The vibrant colors and their fluid nature represent the flow of emotions, ideas, and understanding between two entities. In essence, the image beautifully captures a fleeting moment of deep connection and understanding between two beings, where one shares their vulnerabilities and the other responds with empathy and recognition, culminating in a profound communion.

Marcus speaks into a microphone.



Blind since age five due to glaucoma and cataracts, is widely known as one of the preeminent American jazz pianists of his generation. Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards and competitions, including the 1982 Young Artist’s Award at the National Association of Jazz Educators’ conference and the Helen Keller Award for Personal Achievement in 1998. 

Roberts started learning the piano at age five by picking out notes on the instrument at his church until his parents bought a piano when he was eight. He attended the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind in St. Augustine, Florida, the alma mater of Ray Charles. Roberts began teaching himself piano at an early age, having his first lesson at age 12, and then studying with Leonidas Lipovetsky while attending Florida State University.

Mr. Roberts is an active jazz educator who has developed numerous outreach and residency programs for children of all ages. He has been instrumental to the training and development of a number of young musicians, including such great jazz artists as trumpeters Marcus Printup and Nicholas Payton, trombonist Ronald Westray, and drummer Jason Marsalis. 

One of Roberts’ greatest achievements is the creation of an entirely new approach to jazz trio performance. This approach relies on all musicians sharing equally in shaping the direction of the music through changing its tempo, mood, texture, or form by using a system of musical cues and flexible forms.  Their quick musical reflexes and creative imagination give Roberts’ trio a style that is powerful, rhythmic, and free. Roberts’ recent honors include receiving a commissioning award from Chamber Music America, producing a Franco-American celebration of Louis Armstrong, and serving as an Artist-in-Residence for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. 

Roberts has had a long and enjoyable collaborative relationship with Maestro Seiji Ozawa (formerly of the Boston Symphony Orchestra), performing under his direction on many occasions. Their most recent collaboration was for the 2003 European premiere of Roberts’ new arrangement of Gershwin’s “Concerto in F for Piano and Orchestra” with the Berlin Philharmonic at their annual Waldbühne concert.