Dr. Steven Roberts is associate professor of jazz studies and trumpet at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Previously, he was assistant professor of trumpet and jazz at Mars Hill College after holding a similar position at Iowa State University. He is an active teacher and freelance musician and has performed with Marcus Roberts, Kirk Whalum, Martha and the Vandellas, Vincent DiMartino, Ryan Anthony, Jon Faddis, Allen Vizzutti, Cecil and Deedee Bridgewater, Chip McNeill, Jim Pugh, Charo and many others.
In the fall of 2021 Dr. Roberts completed a live recording of Grammy winner Dave Crenshaw’s self-titled album. The band previously had remotely recorded their parts from their homes for a studio version, but this was the true vision of the artist and was first time to have the full band together for a complete session. Although everyone’s life changed in 2020, Roberts remained active in the arranging and recording world by contributing remotely to several projects. He wrote and recorded horn arrangements for the Chicago band Theodosia and local artist Henry Waller. He was the feature interview for an Instagram livestream sponsored by the Centro Colombo Americano for their Jazz Appreciation Month. Later in the summer he was able to join some of the top local jazz musicians in a chamber group, the Choko Aiken Band, for a sponsored livestream of original jazz/classical fusion arrangements from Birmingham’s Lyric theater. In January 2021 Roberts completed a recording for a video project with the Alabama Jazz Collective where he was featured alongside saxophonist and colleague Gary Wheat. The video was released online and was followed by a series of concerts and clinics around the state of Alabama.
In the summer of 2019 Dr. Roberts completed a week long tour around the country of Colombia with a Bluegrass fusion group, The Jason Bailey Band. The group did concerts and clinics in Armenia, Manizales, Villamaria, and Sevilla. The final performance in Sevilla was for their biggest festival of the year, the Festival Bandola, for a crowd of approximately 10,000 people and a multi camera live stream that reached around the world. This was the third professional tour Roberts had done with colleague and guitarist Carlos Pino. Just before that tour Roberts did a month long tour of Europe with his student group, the UAB Jazz Ensemble. The group performed in Italy, Germany, and Austria and was the fourth such tour Dr. Roberts has led. In 2014, the group performed with Alabama rock band Downright in Lucerne, Switzerland at the Blue Balls Festival for a crowd of thousands. Along with these European tours, he has led the group in the Southeast US and a week long tour of Colombia. Roberts also led the group to first place in the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame competition three times, most recently in 2018.
Roberts is former music director at Saint Junia United Methodist Church and Unity Church, both in Birmingham. His group “The Roberts Jazz Project” released their album Let’s Fall in Love in 2012. This album features Roberts on both trumpet and keyboard. Dr. Roberts has premiered arrangements for trumpet ensemble at two International Trumpet Guild conferences, and also performed several premieres as a performer with the Alabama Trumpet Guild. He was the chosen scholar for the Birmingham Library film/discussion series “America's Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway” and, in the spring of 2011, Roberts presented with Dr. Andrew Wolvin (University of Maryland, College Park) at the International Listening Association Conference on a panel entitled “Musical Listening.” The project sought to explain the effect of musical techniques on speech.
Dr. Roberts received his Bachelors in Music from Oberlin Conservatory of Music where he studied classical music from members of the Cleveland Orchestra and Detroit Symphony Al Couch and Bill Lucas respectively, and studied jazz from Kenny Davis, Robin Eubanks, Wendall Logan and Neal Creque, freelance musicians from Cleveland and New York. He received his Doctorate of Musical Arts in trumpet performance and jazz at the University of Illinois (U.C.) where he also received his Masters degree. There he was a soloist with the Wind Symphony, served as principal of the University Orchestra, and filled the jazz chair in the top jazz band. At Illinois he studied trumpet from Ray Sasaki, Michael Ewald, and Ronald Romm, and jazz from Chip McNeill, Vern Sielert, Ron Bridgewater and Thomas Wirtel.