Writings about Music

People Tapestry

Places to find yourself in Los Angeles are important, but so are people you cannot find anywhere else. Several years after arriving here from NYC, I was fortunate to meet a legendary teacher, Harihar Rao, the senior disciple of Ravi Shankar. Visiting his home in Pasadena was akin to being transported to India, and his lessons proved a conduit for internalizing rare, exquisite musical qualities that included liaisons with American jazz and European classical music. This all happens in the complex, variegated people tapestry well beyond cliches about The City of Angels.

Water Stones is the opening track on my 1995 Hamoa album, a collection of compositions directly inspired by the teaching of the great Harihar Rao, whose other students included Don Ellis, Robby Krieger and George Harrison.

Writing in Keyboard, Titus Levi, who also played selections from Hamoa on his KUSC radio program, had this to say: "The impact of North Indian music is ubiquitous on Hamoa. But by moving out into worldly influences, Robinson also leaves the door open for Near Eastern, African, East Asian, Australian, and other influences to seep into his music. This, the curious tunings used, and Robinson's particular ability to use mechanical sounds musically makes for a listening experience that is at once dreamy and astringent, beautiful and a tad disorienting."

Lee Konitz, the legendary alto saxophonist, had this to say in a handwritten letter: "Just returned and found your CD. Very nice - swings good! It's great doing the whole thing yourself. I just go in and play, and the rest is out of my hands."

- Michael Robinson, July 2018, Los Angeles


© 2018 Michael Robinson All rights reserved


Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist).