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Prince Robinson - JPop.com
Artist info
Prince Robinson

Prince Robinson

Prince Robinson


This Southern musician's early start helped him get a foot in the door of many of the most innovative and most popular jazz combos of the day, where he emerged as a member well-respected by his fellow players but largely forgotten by the listening public. He was self-taught on the clarinet and began wailing with local bands less than a year after he started playing at 14. He headed for New York City in 1923 after a few years of knocking around the local scene. Read more on Last.fm
This Southern musician's early start helped him get a foot in the door of many of the most innovative and most popular jazz combos of the day, where he emerged as a member well-respected by his fellow players but largely forgotten by the listening public. He was self-taught on the clarinet and began wailing with local bands less than a year after he started playing at 14. He headed for New York City in 1923 after a few years of knocking around the local scene. His first job from the Big Apple jazz merchants was with Lionel Howard's Musical Aces, and from there, gigs with Elmer Snowden, June Clark, and a quite green Duke Ellington.

Robinson was on recording sessions with the latter band, including sides cut for Okeh that have been reissued on labels such as Masters of Jazz. There are many different collections available of Ellington recordings from the mid- and late '20s, many of them featuring Robinson. In 1927 he took advantage of the opportunity to tour South America as a member of the Leon Abbey band, then joined the classic hot jazz outfit McKinney's Cotton Pickers, fronted by reed player Don Redman. Robinson's recordings with this group highlight his soloing on tracks such as "Four or Five Times," cut originally for Victor. There are a half-dozen different collections available of recordings by the McKinney group.

A medium-sized combo that sounded like a much larger group, this band was one of the best mediums for Robinson. One of his specialties fit right in with the group's flair for interesting arrangements. Robinson liked to take solos on both his instruments, the tenor saxophone and the clarinet, during the same tune. Very few reed players in jazz do this, amongst them Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eric Dolphy (in his much longer improvised excursions), and on a more experimental note, Chicago reedmen Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton, and Joseph Jarman would reinvent the idea in the '60s. In the late '30s, Robinson played with Blanche Calloway, Willie Bryant, trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and beginning in 1940, jazz giant Louis Armstrong.

He stayed with "Satchmo" through 1942, during a creative and energetic part of that jazz master's career. Armstrong undertook quite a few ambitious and interesting recording sessions for Decca during this period. The later merger with this label and MCA and posthumous commercial exploitation of the legend of the Satchmo have resulted in a deluge of collections focusing on or including the '40s, many of which have the name Prince Robinson printed on them, if the record company in question bothered to credit the musicians. After leaving the Armstrong band, Robinson worked with Lucky Millinder, Benny Morton, and a long stint with pianist Claude Hopkins from 1944 through 1952. He worked in backup bands behind singers Helen Humes and Billie Holiday, and shows up on the latter singer's fabulous studio sessions from the '40s.

In the '50s, he performed and recorded with trumpeter Henry "Red" Allen and Freddie Washington from 1955 through 1959. In 1953, he also put together a group under his own name, but gigged with it only briefly. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..

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