Reviews that mention Jason Robinson

September 1, 2018

Jason Robinson’s Janus Ensemble:

Resonant Geographies
pfMentum PFMCD 115

Using all the sonic colors available from an 11-piece ensemble, San Diego-based tenor saxophonist Jason Robinson has composed a seven-part suite that articulates straightforward swing without sacrificing exploratory touches. While recruiting some exceptional talent, Robinson’s writing emphases its uniqueness with a non-expected orchestration that includes three low-brass players, four reeds divided between saxophone and clarinets, two percussionists. plus double bass and guitar. While the expansive arrangements are sometimes enlarged enough to reflect Stan Kenton orchestra at its most restrained, the bedrock riffs and rhythms relate back to more subtle organization of the pre-war Fletcher Henderson and Duke Ellington bands. MORE

July 1, 2018

Michael Musillami Trio +2

Life Anthem
Playscape PSR #091717

From great suffering comes great art or at least that’s what one cliché insists. But in the case of Life Anthem an argument can be made for the statement’s veracity. Recorded a little more than year after an emergency neurosurgery excised the American guitarist Michael Musillami’s unexpected brain hemorrhage and brain tumor, the over-70-minute session has some of the most accomplished writing and playing he’s produced in his more than quarter-century career. Musillami isn’t alone in this. Backing comes from bassist Joe Fonda, known for his work in bands like Conference Call and the FAB trio and drummer George Schuller, with his own Schull Dogs group, both of whom have played with the guitarist since 2002. Musical heft is added by two new collaborators: cornetist Kirk Knuffke and saxophonist/flutist Jason Robinson, both active on the New York scene. MORE

March 23, 2014

Marty Ehrlich Large Ensemble

A Trumpet in the Morning
New World Records 80752-2

Given a rare opportunity to show off his composing and arranging skills in a big band context, multi-reedist Marty Ehrlich accepts the challenge here. But in re-casting material for more than a dozen musicians he demonstrates the superiority of some of his compositions over others. It’s not that there’s any second-rate music here. But the tunes composed for college and high school ensembles maintain their academic and pedagogical roots. They’re pleasing yet simplistic performances without the depth and compositional sophistication of the other material. MORE

August 6, 2011

Jason Robinson/Anthony Davis

Cerulean Landscape
Clean Feed CF 198 CD

By Ken Waxman

Back to the future for pianist Anthony Davis, this CD is a reminder that the improvising skill he first exhibited in the 1970s still lurks within the composer now best-known for his chamber, choral and symphonic work as well as operas such as X and Amistad. Co-leader of the band Cosmologic, multi-reedist Jason Robinson renews the on-again-off-again relationship he has had with Davis since 1998, for a series of duo numbers, most composed by either man.

Nevertheless, “Someday I'll Know” written by Jason Shurbury, is the tune closest to a standard, and both so-called avant-gardists handle it exquisitely. Robinson’s moderato flutter tonguing quivers comfortably alongside low-frequency keyboard tinkles from Davis. Delicately emphasizing the tune’s contours as it unspools, the pianist turns to comping when the saxophonist reenters with a conclusive, andante cadenza. MORE

March 9, 2011

Jason Robinson

Cerberus Rising
Accretions ALP51

J D Parran

Window Spirits

Mutable 17539-2

Linsey Wellman


No label No #

Ab Baars

Time to Do My Lions

Wig 17

Something in the Air: Solo Saxophone Sessions

By Ken Waxman

Solo performances are the true test of a musician’s mettle. If he or she can keep listeners’ interest throughout an exploration of an instrument’s limits, these skills can be utilized in any situation. Unaccompanied string recitals are as ancient as music itself, but only in the later part of the 20th Century did it become common for other instrumentalists to express their ideas singularly. Improvised music accelerated this process with significant solo saxophone recitals by the likes of Evan Parker and Anthony Braxton. Today seemingly every saxophonist records in a solitary fashion at least once, with these discs some of the better recent performances. MORE

February 13, 2006


Cosmologic - III
Circumvention Music 045

Five years on in its evolution as a band, it’s evident that Cosmologic is heading towards a musical crossroads. Nurtured in the rich cross-fertilization of sonic ideas that evolved from San Diego’s Trummerflora Collective, the band’s improv chops were stroked by interaction with the likes of trombonist George Lewis and reedist Vinny Golia. Added to this were influences ranging form so-called serious music, theatre troupes, rock bands, straight jazz and electronica.

COSMOLOGIC III still has the same free flow and invention of the band’s earlier CDs, but as notable as many of the eight tunes here are, now that it’s at chapter three, the combo itself and its members lack certain individuality. Trombonist Michael Dessen’s move to the East Coast a couple of years ago may have something to do with this, although taken in isolation his solos are still powerful, as is his comfortable interaction with reedist Jason Robinson. MORE

November 15, 2005

Guelph Jazz Festival:

Improv On The Move
for CODA

Taking the concept of free-flowing improvisation a step further, one morning at this year’s Guelph Jazz Festival (GJF), 15 musicians performed simultaneously in four different whitewashed rooms of the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre.

The workshop developed this way, according to Ajay Heble, GJF artistic director, because so many musicians wanted to participate. Some – American alto saxophonist Marshall Allan, British pianist Veryan Weston, Québécois guitarist René Lussier and American banjoist Eugene Chadbourne – rooted on a spot and collaborated with whoever came along. Others moved from place to place and up and down the staircase as they played. MORE

June 20, 2005


Skeleton Key Orchestra
Circumvention 039 A-B

Perhaps it’s the number of music schools in California, the dissatisfaction musicians in the West have with regular commercial gigs they have, or a Left Coast insistence on group companionship, but the number of big – make it massive – bands extant seems to have grown exponentially there in recent years.

Los Angeles-based multi-reedist Vinny Golia has one, drummer Adam Rudolph’s Organic Orchestra is another in the Bay area, and trumpeter Jeff Kaiser Ockodektet works out of Ventura – and there are others. Individually though, percussionist Nathan Hubbard’s San Diego-based Skeleton Key Orchestra (SKO), is unique in many respects. MORE

October 27, 2003


Dual Resonance
Circumvention 037

Eighteen improvisations in duo, trio and quartet formations make up this unique CD, cast as both a memorial to German bassist Peter Kowald and as much more.

Uncomfortable with the idea of turning what had been a spontaneous series of musical meetings with the bassist in 2000 into a full-fledged commemorative disc -- with all the presumptuous baggage associated with the act -- the three other participants decided on another course. Recording in trio formation almost three years later, they mixed the nine new tracks among the 11 featuring Kowald. The result is a tribute that extends Kowald’s ideas within the ongoing musical context that these Californians operate. MORE

June 9, 2003


Circumvention Music 035


Quartets prominently featuring a trombonist, Gianluca Petrella’s Italian/English combo and the all-American Cosmologic co-op share more similarities than differences.

Proving once again improvised music’s universality, this congruence wouldn’t be that apparent at first blush. After all, Cosmologic’s members are youngish academics as involved in electronics, chamber and World musics as jazz, while the Europeans are veterans of the Continental jazz scene. One, British bassist Paul Rogers, is practically a grizzled graybeard, best known for his membership in Mujician, the longstanding Brit improv band featuring veteran pianist Keith Tippett. Still, both groups’ sound comes from that general unspecified mode with as many echoes from outwardly directed freebop as out-and-out Free Jazz blowing. MORE

November 4, 2002


Blackwater Bridge
Drimala DR 02-347-02

Accretions ALP 025CD

Making a list of dedicated harpists who excel in -- or even play -- free form music doesn’t take too long. In improvised music, for instance, there’s Briton Rhodri Davies and American Zeena Parkins and … Davies and Parkins. In jazz there was Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane and, … unsurprisingly, Ashby and Coltrane.

However BLACKWATER BRIDGE, an exacting duo disc featuring alto saxophonist Gary Hassay, definitely adds harpist Anne LeBaron to that stellar company. Considering the unadorned musical circumstances here, her work may be even more noteworthy. After all, solo saxophone doesn’t provide much back up. MORE

October 21, 2002


Hybrid Vigor
Accretions ALP-027 CD

Sound Art at its most elastic, with its ever-shifting cast of characters and usual sounds, HYBRID VIGOR could be a piece of cinema waiting to be shot. But considering Hollywood’s obsession with blow-‘em-up blockbusters, this narrative of mixed improvisations put together by percussionist/tape manipulator Marcos Fernandes is probably truer to the artist’s eye on CD than anything would be on film stock.

One of the founders of San Diego’s Trummerflora Collective, Fernandes was born in Yokohama, Japan of Portuguese/Japanese heritage, and raised Catholic in a Buddhist country. Thus this disc includes hybrid elements of out-rock, so-called trance music, ethnic sounds and pure sonic manipulation. MORE