NEW ORLEANS SCENE STALWART
Roland Guerin was an undeclared MVP at Jazz Fest
this year, variously laying down solid jazz walking
and spiky funk grooves with keyboard men Allen
Toussaint, Henry Butler, and Ellis Marsalis. When not playing with them, guitarist
John Scofield, or pianist Marcus Roberts, Guerin is busy prepping his sixth solo album. He has
also contributed music to the score of the documentary “Historically Black,” a forthcoming DVD from
Lately, you seem to be drawn to playing in piano trios. What do you like about that kind
There’s plenty of space for everyone’s voices. I can rest assured the other guys are listening
and ready to support me, as long as I have good ideas that make sense. But I like just about any
setting where the music is on a high level.
How do you approach your gigs with New Orleans legend Allen Toussaint?
The bass lines Allen writes have a personality that help define the essence of his songs. When
I play the lines exactly as written, that personality comes through in my voice, with my interpretation
of the groove and melody.
What’s a key element in playing the New Orleans style rhythm?
You have to understand where the four sits. There’s no other place with that kind of groove
HEAR HIM ON
Marcus Roberts Trio,
New Orleans Meets
Harlem, Vol. 1 [J-Master,
2009]; Jeremy Davenport, We’ll
Dance ’Til Dawn [Basin Street, 2009];
Wess Anderson, Warm It Up, Warmdaddy!
[Nu Jazz, 2009]
Upright basses Two e-size Juzeks with
medium-gauge Corelli 370 strings, Fishman
Full Circle pickups, and Audio-Technica
ATM350 condenser mics
Electric basses Ibanez BTB 576 six-string
tuned EADGCF, Ken Smith 7-string
strings; Ibanez Roadster 2 4-string; custom
arch top 6-string hollowbody
acoustic bass guitar (of his own design)
Rig SWR Natural
Pro 700 head
and SWR Goliath
Junior Cab; SWR
Baby Blue head