Clarinetist Perry Robinson’s personality and legacy

Although known as a linchpin of the so-called avant-garde Jazz scene, clarinetist Perry Robinson, who died at 80 in January, was much more than that, both musically and personally, explains The Jersey Journal’s Jim Testa. Although famous for his associations with the bands of bassist Charlie Haden, saxophonist Archie Shepp and an experimental unit of pianist Dave Brubeck, Robinson, son of left-wing composer Earl Robinson, grew up with the likes of singer/songwriters Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger performing around the house. Living the final part of his life in Hoboken, New Jersey, his early interest in all musical forms meant he would often sit in with local Country, Funk or Rock bands, sometimes with another FreeJazzer, alto saxophonist Mark Whitecage, and even collaborate with supposed anti-folk singers like his cousin Jeffrey Lewis. Robinson was also the dedicatée and original soloist for composer Gary Schneider’s Concerto for Jazz Clarinetist and String Orchestra. His friend Robinson was “Hoboken’s most famous, non-famous person in music,” says Schneider.