All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Robin Kenyatta

Robin Kenyatta

Robin Kenyatta - alto and tenor sax, flute

In the 1960s and 1970s, Robin Kenyatta was one of the more original players in the new sound of jazz. Unafraid to put his alto sax through unexpected twists, Kenyatta became famous for his free jazz performances. During a career spanning four decades, he released 12 albums and appeared on dozens more. He held his own against the greatest jazz men of the twentieth century and, according to All About Jazz, is remembered as “one of THE altoists of the '60s.”

Born Robert Prince Haynes on March 6, 1942, in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Kenyatta was the third child of Thomas and Rebecca Haynes. The family, including older siblings Doris and Thomas, moved to New York City when Kenyatta was four. There, a neighbor played the saxophone. For years Kenyatta listened to him practice through the walls. He fell in love with the sound and, at the age of 14, got his hands on his first instrument an alto sax. He joined the school marching band, but as the instructor was focused on trumpets, Kenyatta learned mostly on his own. Eventually he met professional musicians who helped him along, including John Handy, a saxophonist who had played with Charles Mingus. Though alto sax would become his specialty, Kenyatta also learned tenor sax, soprano sax, and flute.

After graduating from high school, Kenyatta spent two years nurturing his craft. He learned how to write music and began composing. At the age of 19, he landed his first professional gig. In 1962 Kenyatta joined the U.S. Army and served two years in a military band. Upon his return to New York, he changed his name to Robin Kenyatta in honor of Jomo Kenyatta, the Kenyan nationalist leader, and begun to pursue a career as a professional musician.

Read more

Tags

Albums

Similar

Jimmy Smith Jimmy Smith
organ, Hammond B3
Sonny Stitt Sonny Stitt
saxophone
Jimmy Giuffre Jimmy Giuffre
clarinet
Dr. Lonnie Smith Dr. Lonnie Smith
organ, Hammond B3
Gary Burton Gary Burton
vibraphone
Jimmy McGriff Jimmy McGriff
organ, Hammond B3
Stanley Turrentine Stanley Turrentine
saxophone, tenor
Joey DeFrancesco Joey DeFrancesco
organ, Hammond B3

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.