Writings about Music

Gift From Beyond From Chadabe

Joel Chadabe, John Cage, Christian Wolff and Petr Kotic

A pleasant surprise realizing there are at least four reviews of my music I had forgotten about from CDeMusic, part of the Electronic Music Foundation founded and led by Joel Chadabe. To be sure, these reviews are very brief, this likely being the reason they were not included at Azure Miles Records before, yet they reveal a keen appreciation for my original form of composition and performance. And the company CDeMusic consistantly placed me in, among the most well known composers in the world, spoke for itself, many of the other reviews being similarly succinct, the point being inclusion. Finding these today seemed like a gift from beyond from Joel.

When Joel left us, I penned this tribute to him. He was a trailblazer in both the world of electronic music and computer music. When we met at Lincoln Center in Manhattan during the summer of 2000, I had no way of knowing this would be the one and only time, though we shared many subsequent email communications.

Joel remains the epitome of a generous spirit, someone who wished to grow the world of music with true artistic diversity, as opposed to conformity. I'm still blown away by how different my music is from his own, and from the other music he supported. Part of this, no doubt, was our mutual love of jazz, where he had the background, experience, sensitivity and intelligence to recognize my unique assimilation in language, form and expression, reformulating an improvised medium into fully notated compositions. And doing the same with Indian classical music simultaneously, a tradition Joel also loved, if not with the same degree of familiarity.

Joel saw no separation between the avant-garde spirit of someone like John Cage and myself. He realized how John had performed the necessary and heroic task of clearing land and restoring the soil for new crops to grow, recalling the labors of Hercules, myself being one of the beneficiaries.

Those who continue to mock John Cage are understandably missing the point due to his extreme abstractions and stark simplicities, not grasping how he embodies the true spirit of Western classical music navigating necessary cycles of creation and destruction as opposed to being a materialistic and superficial intruder. Not that there's anything wrong with museum-consciousness, we just need to recognize it for what it is - living in the past, which again is fine for those who prefer it. And it's fine, too, for those who understand and respect John Cage while not being in tune with his accomplishments.

Joel Chadabe and Michael Robinson at Lincoln Center in Manhattan

I miss Joel Chadabe dearly, and hope to continue to learn from his example. Joel would have been so thrilled how I'm now recording piano improvisations, too, most recently turning to the standards he treasured so deeply for seeds.

It was the exquisitely lively and charming computer music of Joel Chadabe, together with Salvatore Martirano and David Behrman, which first excited me about the exciting beauty this medium promised on the horizon of dreams.

Here are the four items rediscovered today, all absolutely seminal albums within my oeuvre, especially Kaunsi Kanada and Lunar Mansions, the latter composed while living in the enchanted home of Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy and Amy Catlin who had sojourned to India for five months or so. It was an especially exciting time.

Kaunsi Kanada by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

Bhoop by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

Lunar Mansions by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

The Listening Earth by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

The following three reviews were previously included at Azure Miles Records.

Puriya Dhanshri by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

Tendrils by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

Nagamani by Michael Robinson (CDeMusic)

There were numerous additional reviews of my music at CDeMusic whereby they selected excerpts from the album liner notes and observations about my music in general from other publications due to time constraints and the sheer volume of albums they wished to feature.

After CDeMusic, Chadabe formed New Music World, and wishing to feature my music, asked me to select nine albums for his idea, working with me on the written parts, his influence clearly evident.

There was another site Joel originated related to protecting the earth, with music as a catalyist, and here he featured my Music For Rain.

The Attari Cafe in Westwood has become one of my favorite places, offering sublime Persian cuisine, not to mention that fantastic name, which I was told means "spice" or "spices". I would have loved to have taken Joel there, this being part of his heritage.

- Michael Robinson, August 2022, Los Angeles


© 2022 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, jazz pianist and musicologist. His 177 albums include 151 albums for meruvina and 26 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.