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Justin Robinson

Primary Instrument: Sax, alto

Born: August 14, 1968    

Justin Robinson


Alto saxophonist Justin Robinson was born August 14, 1968, in Manhattan. He first picked up a horn at the age of 13, and honed his sound while attending the High School of Music and Arts (LaGuardia High School) in New York.

Robinson developed a passion for the alto sax and, from the influences of Charlie Parker and Jackie McLean, crafted his own distinctive sound. Robinson has collaborated with eminent artists such as the Harper Brothers, Cecil Brooks III, Abbey Lincoln, Diana Ross, Little Jimmy Scott, and the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band, The Dizzy Gillespie All Star Band, and most recently, The Roy Hargrove Big Band in addition to the Roy Hargrove Quintet....
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... “For every young jazz musician the challenge lies in their ability to develop an original, uniquely identifiable sound. Altoist Justin Robinson, whose sound and approach owe a huge debt to Charlie Parker, has a way to go before he meets that goal. Justin spent some time in the short-lived Harper Brother's band (along with pianist Stephen Scott) and has released one other record under his name-- Justin Time(Verve/1991). Scott, who has since carved out a fine career of his own, accompanies Justin again on The Challenge and is the album's strongest presence. He makes the most of his solo opportunities and his originals, “Master Scott” and “The Challenge,” are solid. Robinson's compositions reflect a deep love and respect for his family. “No More Sacrifices” is an intense 16-bar blues dedicated to his mother, while the ballad “Love Thy Father” and “Adnil,” a playful tribute to his younger sister, demonstrate that Justin possesses a certain talent for writing. Tenorist Ron Blake augments the quartet on four tunes and his interaction with the leader is pleasantly combative. “ ~~ John Sharpe, All About Jazz, 1999

... “The Challenge is Robinson's show all the way. And quite a showcase it is. Though a few tunes like “Cognitive Activity” and “A Little Sweeter” drink deeply from the indigo rivers of his idols Jackie Mac and Monk, the majority of the CD's 10 tracks reveal a mature player with his own sound. Whether breezily freestyling fresh slants on the melody of “It Ain't Necessarily So” (”The Apocalypse”) or bluesing a highland fling with Blake (”Adnil”), Justin Robinson's steelo is stone immaculate. The Challenge is all there in the hearing.” ~~ Tom Terrell, JazzTimes, 1999

... “This is alto saxophonist Justin Robinson's second recording as a leader and his first since 1991's Justin Time. He is joined by childhood friend, pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Dwayne Burno, drummer Dion Parson, and tenor saxophonist Ron Blake on four selections; they perform a program of nine originals, six by Robinson, two by Scott, one by pianist Rodney Kendrick, and one jazz classic, an up-tempo arrangement of Herbie Hancock's “Maiden Voyage.” Robinson possesses one of the most distinctive alto sax sounds around, similar to one of his major influences, Jackie McLean, with an aggressive attack reminiscent of McLean and, at times, Eric Dolphy. There is only one ballad on this recording, Robinson's “Love Thy Father,” and every other selection is either medium or up-tempo. Along with “Maiden Voyage,” other favorites include the title track, based on Joe Henderson's “Recorda Me,” Kendrick's finger popper, “A Little Sweeter,” and “Adnil,” Robinson's swinging tribute to his sister that also appeared in a shorter version on Justin Time. Hopefully there will be fewer years between recordings from this fine young musician.” ~~ Greg Turner

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Primary Instrument:
Sax, alto

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The Challenge by John Sharpe

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KPLU885 | December 03, 2009 Trumpeter Roy Hargrove performed live at KPLU's Seattle studios on December 2, 2009, during his 6-day performances at Jazz Alley. This studio visit is hosted by Abe Beeson. Hargrove was accompanied by pianist Jonathan Batiste, bassist Ameen Saleem, saxophonist Justin Robinson, and drummer Montez Coleman. Roy says, "The working title right now is "Soulful."

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