Writings about Music
I was thinking about my ultimate favorite jazz artists, noticing they seem to come in pairs like Shiva and Shakti, embodying opposites of a sort in terms of artistic domains. Considered together, each pairing encompasses pleasingly varied worlds of consciousness and invention where one may seek both inspiration and solace. There are many other jazz artists I find indispensible, of course. Interestingly, the disciplines I absolutely was unable to limit to two were drums, tenor saxophone and clarinet, with the latter having recently discovered the magnificent Barney Bigard. One musician outside of jazz was included, Hariprasad Chauraisa, due to his unmatched level of flute playing (bansuri) obliterating genres. Interestingly, the trombonists I selected, Bob Brookmeyer and Juan Tizol, both played valve trombone.
Here they are in no particular order.
Vocal - Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong
Trumpet - Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong
Tenor Saxophone - Stan Getz, John Coltrane and Ben Webster
Drums - Alan Dawson, Elvin Jones and Joe Morello
Alto Saxophone - Lee Konitz and Charlie Parker
Piano - Red Garland and Lennie Tristano
Baritone Saxophone - Harry Carney and Gerry Mulligan
Bass - Richard Davis and Steve Davis
Clarinet - Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and Barney Bigard
Flute - Herbie Mann and Hariprasad Chaurasia
Percussion - Poncho Sanchez and Airto Moreira
Guitar - Charlie Christian and Eddie Lang
Electric/Electronic - Chick Corea (electric piano) and Michael Robinson (meruvina)
Trombone - Bob Brookmeyer and Juan Tizol
Big Band - Count Basie and Duke Ellington
Among the musicians here, I'm very fortunate to have studied with Lee Konitz, after which we became close friends.
My Dad took me to the Village Gate to hear Dizzy Gillespie when I was a teenager, arriving very early. In my mind's eye, I can still see Dizzy entering the club, and waving back with a welcoming smile and "Hi!" to both of us.
Nazir Ali Jairazbhoy told me how thrilling it was to have Gillespie attend one of the weekly Friday night soirées hosted by Amy Catlin and himself at their home following a UCLA concert where the trumpeter was featured. Nazir had also said Lee Konitz was his favorite jazz artist of all without beforehand knowing of my friendship with Lee.
Under the awning outside a Manhattan jazz club in the early eighties, I was once standing alone together with Stan Getz while he smoked either a joint or a cigarette with great intensity, but by the time I summoned enough courage to say hello, he darted back into the club like an unexpected turn of phrase or even The Flash.
- Michael Robinson, August 2021 and August 2022, Los Angeles
© 2021 Michael Robinson All rights reserved
Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer, programmer, jazz pianist and musicologist. His 190 albums include 151 albums for meruvina and 39 albums of piano improvisations. Robinson has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University Long Beach and Dominguez Hills.