Born: November 28, 1978 Primary Instrument: Sax, alto
“I like Robbins’ playing,” wrote Cadence reviewer Jason Bivins. “He’s got vision in his writing and improvising and the focus to bring it out in the open.”
Pete Robbins (born 11/28/78) moved to New York in September, 2002, and immediately became “a welcome presence on the creative music scene.” He leads his groups Centric, sILENT Z, and the Robbins/Pavone/Sorey Trio at New York venues such as the 55 Bar, Cornelia Street Café, Barbes, the Tea Lounge, Bar 4, and others. Robbins' bands tour the U.S. and Europe regularly, including yearly appearances at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival. He is also featured on guitarist Ryan Blotnick's new recording Music Needs You (Songlines).
In addition to his performing and recording pursuits, Robbins also curated a jazz series at the Cornelia Street Café in 2004 on behalf of the organization “Music for America”, a partisan non-profit organzation promoting political and social awareness through live music. Groups led by such jazz legends as Dave Douglas, Uri Caine, Ravi Coltrane, Bill McHenry, Rodney Green, John O’gallagher, and others shared the bill with Robbins’ “Centric” ensemble at each concert. In September 2004, The Village Voice recognized Robbins’ musical, promotional, and political efforts by naming him their featured Jazz Pick for the fall season.
For his compositional achievements, Chamber Music america recently awarded Robbins with their prestigious “New Works: Creation and Presentation” grant, as well as their New Works: Encore award, on behalf of the Doris Duke Foundation. Robbins was commissioned to adapt choral works of 17th century Italian composer Carlo Gesualdo for Centric.
[Centric is an] ambitious ensemble that combines spacious avant-gardism with the melodic punch of rock....[Robbins has] a cool tone and a thoughtfully off-kilter sensibility. 'Waits and Measures' (Playscape)...is an intimate...jazz- rock hybrid. (Nate Chinen, New York Times)
Several of Robbins' tunes are flag-wavers, teeming with broad, catchy melodies. That's at odds with the very intricate lines thread together to create such themes, and that dynamic is why Centric[, his ensemble,] is so intriguing....As a horn player, Robbins has liquid timbre that can remind just how pretty modern jazz can be. (Jim Macnie - The Village Voice, The Providence Phoenix)
The colors are dark but vivid. Robbins’ compositions all tend to shift and mutate, falling in and out of grooves, settling down for quiet moments before they burst into rocking squeals. This is quirky 21st-century jazz, ably performed by a forward-thinking sextet that transforms a cerebral sound into something visceral. (JazzTimes Magazine)
Pete can become a force. A real force. He's confident enough not to do what others might tell him. (Paul Bley - liner notes to Centric)
Pete Robbins' 'Waits and Measures' is not so much a fusion album as it is a remarkable commandeering of sometimes conflicting harmonies into a smooth record that is cleverly voltaic....The result is a maddeningly superb array of jazz and funk...'Waits and Measures' is a lovely reminder of what a jagged rhythmic whim can do when paired with an extraordinary ear for tonal congruency and a restless, but measured, inability to wait. (Karla Cornejo, All About Jazz)
Pete Robbins is an innovator in addition to being an immensely talented musician...[He] is transforming the concept of jazz into a new medium...Pete Robbins is a bright new star. (Grady Harp, Amazon.com)
This intriguing new Playscape release, a sextet effort, will definitely appear on many Best-of-2006 lists. Ours, for one. (Paul Blair, Hot House Magazine)
Robbins should win over a horde of admirers with this outing, which conveys asymmetrical parts chops, gusto, funk, fusion and a clear-sighted view of the jazz canon. ... Simply stated, Robbins is a style master who sets himself apart from many of his peers. (Glen Astarita, All About Jazz)
This guy rules. ... He's already amassed a ballpark-sized fan base. ... There's no telling where he'll go. ... Pete's officially moved in, and the downtown scene couldn't be more pumped. ... This alto saxophonist kicks ass atmospherically. (Dan King, The Village Voice)
...a welcome presence on the creative music scene. ... Robbins displays a keen imagination and a rousing command of his horn. (David Adler, All About Jazz)
...the vision and individuality of Pete Robbins...continues to show that jazz is alive and well in the new millenium....Robbins has an acute understanding of jazz as an art-form, but more importantly is striving to create music that is moving in new directions....Robbins has again impressed me with his abilities as a musician, a serious composer, and a vision to create music that is progressive, yet always engages the people. Regardless of the definitions, this is what modern jazz should be about. (Mark F. Turner, All About Jazz & liner notes to W&M)
Original and innovative. ... Robbins is a powerhouse of a talent. ... [His] original compositions reflect a highly creative mind at work. (Lee Prosser, JazzReview.com)
Robbins' music is consistenly intriguing...the freewheeling yet controlled mood of the music is quite original and the main reason that this music is recommended. (Scott Yanow, All Music Guide)
Fusion jazz in a cool suit....[Robbins] speaks to the younger generation of forward-thinking music listeners. (Ernest Barteldes, New York Press)
Pete Robbins shows you that modern jazz doesn't have to be inaccessible to the masses. With a cool tone and hot licks, this will be a chance to see the future of jazz. (Philly2Night.com)
The tunes on...'Waits and Measures' manage to sound both cerebral and funky, and his sidemen’s irreverent asides keep the performances lively. (Hank Shteamer, Time Out New York)
One wonders what territory Pete Robbins and Centric will explore as they continue to evolve as a thoughtful unit, poised to unravel, one layer at a time, a chorus of ideas marked by subtlety flecked with surprise. (Andrea Canter, Jazzpolice.com)
Confounding of expectations raises this music above the norm. (Nic Jones - All About Jazz)
Poised for New York breakthrough. (Copenhagen This Week)
"Waits and Measures" (Playscape, 2006) Pete Robbins (as, cl, compositions), Sam Sadigursky (ts, bs cl), Eliot Krimsky (ky), Mike Gamble (gtr), Thomas Morgan (bs), Dan Weiss (dr)
"Centric" (Telepathy, 2002) Pete Robbins (as, compositions), George Garzone (ts), Mike Gamble (gtr), Chris Van Voorst Van Beest (bs), Pete Zimmer (dr)
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Music Department Head, 2005-present Claremont Prep School 41 Broad St, New York, NY 6 years of classroom music teaching, 10 years of private studio instruction
Led workshops at University of the Arts (Philadelphia), Phillips Academy (Andover, MA), Camp Encore/Coda (Sweden, ME), SedaJazz (Valencia, Spain)