the legendary blues and jazz musician of winston-salem, nc
the legendary blues and jazz musician of winston-salem, nc
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Joe Robinson
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PJA Music Review:


Joe Robinson

Joe Robinson's new CD Evolving is very good; I think it's his best full of jazz standards made famous by guys like Miles Davis and John Coltrane and some cool originals. Joe plays some beautiful solos on trumpet and some nice flugelhorn and even cuts loose on a vocal, and has some quality players backing him up and contributing solos. Joe was always a generous cat so his band members got to stretch out and make their groove.
The standards include that famous riff Impressions by Mr. John Coltrane, the master tenor saxophonist, but this time Joe's arranged it for trumpet. He plays some wonderfully tasteful mainstream trumpet with some great driving piano work by Bernard Wright. Not quite "free form" like Coltrane's original rendition but this different approach is quite appealing - who would have ever thought of this tune without a saxophone. 

Joe's love and respect for Mr. Mile Davis, the virtuoso of the middle range on trumpet, is quite evident on Green Dolphin Street, and a nice, tasty trumpet solo quite comparable to the original and there's excellent backup from the rhythm section especially Wright on piano. Footprints another "Miles" tune that Mr. Davis recorded with Wayne Shorter and the saxophone-less version here is quite good. Finally Joe works his mute on Miles' tune Solar with similar sound to Miles, but Mr. Robinson shines most interestingly with the muted trumpet interplay with percussionist Bill Smith on Jasmine's Dream a medium tempo instrumental that is one of the best on the CD.

There are two other standards: Duke Ellington's In a Sentimental Mood with some nice interplay between Joe's muted brass and Jason Foureman's bowed bass lines; Summertime with a pleasant vocal by Joe and good support from the rhythm section, yet the strongest musical moments here are the fine walking bass work of Foureman and the superb mute work by Joe Robinson.

The originals are Gabrielle's Way, Analise (both inspired by his granddaughters), All I Need Is Love, Jasmine's Dream, and the title tune, Evolving. The title selection, Evolving with its up tempo driving rhythm and the call and response sections with the trumpet is a good finale to the CD, but my favorites on this CD would come down to a draw between Gabrielle's Way and All I Need Is Love. Gabrielle's Way with a beautiful opening solo on flugelhorn by Joe and later cascading trumpet work; or All I Need Is Love, with it's catchy give and take between Joe and Bill Smith on congas are worth having the CD.

The title of the CD, Evolving, is quite appropriate when you look at the diversity of these selections from an old evergreen like Summertime, to Duke Ellington to different eras of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Joe Robinson isn't wedded to one style of jazz. Like the jazzman that he is, his style is always Evolving.

Malcolm G. Moore, Jr.
Piedmont Jazz Alliance

Malcolm G. Moore, Jr. is freelance music writer and photographer whose work has appeard on websites and in publications including Mary Lou Williams biography Morning Glory.
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