Tom Roberts

Tom Roberts is a leading exponent of early jazz piano. He's played everywhere from New York’s Carnegie Hall and the Tonight Show to the major jazz clubs in the French Quarter.


78 records: Raising the Dead

What we refer to as “sound” is simply our perception of vibrations.

To state this idea in the simplest possible manner:

When you hear me speak, my breath is causing my vocal cords to vibrate, which is amplified by my mouth, putting the molecules of air into motion, causing them to vibrate, and those vibrations enter into the listener’s ear, causing their eardrum to vibrate, and these vibrations are transferred to the three tiny bones within the ear to translate those vibrations into what our brain interprets as sound.

When recording were originally created, the performer would stand in front of a large horn that acted as the ear. He or she would sing or play and the vibration of their breath would travel into the “ear” causing a device reproducing the ear drum to vibrate that caused a needle to etch those vibrations into a spinning disc, capturing the breath into grooves.

When we put the steel needle into the grooves of a 78 RPM record this process is reversed.

We feel the vibrations of the breath of a person who has left this earth come back at us across the centuries.

This is the closest thing we have to time travel and not only that!

Breath is what gives life. It is called different things in different traditions. It is sometimes called prana, which is synonymous with the life force.

When we put the needle into the groove we in essence bring the dead back to life.

The Hot Club of Pittsburgh

Want to experience this yourself?

Join me and join The Hot Club Of Pittsburgh third Thursdays at Scratch Food & Beverage and hear the most miraculous things you've never heard before!

I will be spinning shellac hot jazz from the original 78 rpm records on a vintage portable wind up victrola.

©2019 Tom Roberts