The Jazz Man

Jazz man: Kelly Roberti Honored with Arts Award From The BOZEMAN DAILY CHRONICLE
published on Thursday, January 21, 2010 2:57 PM MST
By RACHEL HERGETT, Chronicle Staff Writer

As a child, Kelly Roberti pondered what instruments people played, assuming that the whole world was one big orchestra.

“Obviously he plays the tuba,” Roberti said of an imagined passerby. “That guy’s a flute…”

The son of a piano teacher and musical supervisor in public schools, Roberti never wanted to be anything other than a musician.

I was caught, spellbound as a child by music.

Roberti, 55, considers himself a bassist, composer and poet, but, he said, to continue to be all these things in his native Montana, he had to also become an activist for music.

With a small population and one as spread out as it is in this state, there are less venues showcasing artists, making performances scarce and activism a necessity. As a trade off, “the elbow room” offered by the vastness of the space in which Montanans have chosen to live fosters creativity.

There’s room to have imagination.

It is because of this need for activism, and open conversation with musicians that Roberti began “Jazz with Kelly Roberti,” a summer series at the Bozeman Public Library, showcasing both local and national talent, not only through their music, but also through stories of life experiences.

It is only when we are able to see musicians as humans, to relate to them on a personal level that we are able to truly hear the expression in their music.

We need to let people know we’re human beings, if you humanize the artist, people like them more.

The dialogue Roberti has been able to foster enables musicians to engage the community from within, said longtime friend and collaborator, Eric Funk.

“He breaks the barrier between musician and audience,” Funk said.