Jazz composer and pianist Sir Roland Hanna died on November 13 from a viral infection of the heart in Hackensack, NJ at age 70. He worked with numerous artists, including Benny Goodman, Charles Mingus and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis big band as well as having a stellar solo career. Over the years, he accompanied singers Carmen McRae, Al Hibbler and Sarah Vaughan, for whom he was musical director. A bebop musician conformable with jazz standards, he was also influenced by classical music and in 1988 told the Los Angeles Times, "Classical music has always been a driving force for me, but jazz is my natural music."
Although Hanna was born in Detroit, he was knighted in 1970 by the government of Liberia, in recognition of benefit concerts he had performed there. Thereafter, he insisted on being billed as "Sir Roland Hanna."