Writings about Music

Jazz Jugalbandis

David Amram

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 two disciplines I absolutely was unable to limit to two were piano and drums, the former being technically a percussion instrument, of course, if a pitched one.

Here they are in no particular order.

Vocal - Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong

Trumpet - Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong

Tenor Saxophone - Stan Getz and John Coltrane

Drums - Alan Dawson, Elvin Jones and Joe Morello

Alto Saxophone - Lee Konitz and Charlie Parker

Piano - Red Garland, Lennie Tristano and Bill Evans

Flute - David Amram and Herbie Mann

Baritone Saxophone - Harry Carney and Gerry Mulligan

Bass - Richard Davis and Steve Davis

Clarinet - Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw

Percussion - Poncho Sanchez and Airto Moreira

Guitar - Charlie Christian and Jim Hall

Electric/Electronic - Chick Corea and Michael Robinson

Trombone - Bob Brookmeyer and Jack Teagarden

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. More recently, I've been lucky to become good friends with David Amram. After writing this, I realized how David worked with and/or was friends with many of the other artists included here.

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, Los Angeles


© 2021 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and musicologist who has been a lecturer at UCLA, Bard College and California State University. His 155 albums include 148 albums for Meruvina and 7 albums of piano improvisations.