Herb Robertson is an avant-garde jazz trumpeter, flugelhornist and music producer. He combines a thorough command of traditional and extended techniques with a prodigious imagination.
Born in New Jersey, he began to play trumpet in school during the fifth grade. He was introduced to jazz two years later by his junior high music teacher including Miles Davis. Robertson began collecting jazz records, listening to all styles from Louis Armstrong to the avant-garde and especially the era’s hard bop. In high school he led a quintet that played dances. During 1969-73 he attended the Berklee School Of Music as an instrumental performance major, a period in which his improvisational skills became highly developed. In 1973 he left Berklee, playing on the road in Canada as a lead trumpeter with jazz-rock cover bands.
In 1975 Herb Robertson had to quit playing music for a short time when the strain of performing nightly in a loud jazz-rock band caused him to temporarily lose his trumpet chops. Robertson altered his style, becoming a more lyrical and explorative player. In 1976 he started a rehearsal big band, also playing with some of the local avant-garde musicians in New Jersey. He met altoist Tim Berne in the late 1970s and first gained attention for his playing with Berne’s groups during 1981-87. His tonal distortions and use of mutes looked back to jazz’s past while his freer improvising was quite futuristic, fitting in very well with Berne’s passionate alto playing
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“Robertson’s music is simultaneously a game of equals and a parody of excesses, with an irreverent use of structured freedom. It is also an obtuse refraction of Ellingtonian hues and blues that’s both dramatic and compelling”