Pianist Marcus Roberts
broke onto the national jazz scene in a big way, taking the late Kenny Kirkland's place in Wynton Marsalis' band in 1985. At the age of 21, the soft-spoken blind keyboard player from Jacksonville, Fla., found himself in a relentless spotlight that seemed to follow every move -- and every note -- played by the charismatic Marsalis and his band. Eventually Roberts began recording as a leader himself, and his first three recordings all reached No. 1 on the Billboard
jazz charts. So it's interesting that Roberts' own group, a trio, includes another Marsalis: 23-year-old drummer Jason, Wynton's youngest brother. And Roberts is nurturing Jason's musical career, just as Wynton nurtured his. Jason Marsalis has been a member of Roberts' trio since he was 18 -- and, like Roberts, the young drummer has used that experience as the foundation for his own recordings as a leader.Rounding out the trio is Roland Guerin, one of the most in-demand bass players on the New Orleans jazz scene. Over the past dozen years, Roberts has focused on showcasing the music of jazz greats ranging from Joplin and Monk to Ellington, but he always manages to add a unique personal touch to any composition -- including his own eclectic tunes. As usual, Jazz at the Bistro sets take place at 8:45 and 10:15 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, with 9 and 10:45 p.m. sets on the weekend.