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Guitarist/Composer Henry Robinett Releases 20-Year-Old Recording For The First Time, 'Jazz Standards, Vol. 2: Then Again'

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Henry Robinett has a light, precise touch on his guitar strings. As a lover of ‘swing’ and bebop, I am drawn to Henry Robinett’s music like a fish to water. I find a comfort level swimming in his clearly defined melodies and soaking up his rich improvisations. Every tune becomes a favorite and each arrangement is brilliantly highlighted by the gold-plated excellence of these musicians. —Dee Dee McNeil, Musical Memoirs
Henry Robinett
Guitarist, composer, bandleader, and recording engineer Henry Robinett is releasing Jazz Standards, Vol. 2: Then Again on Nefertiti Records, Robinett’s own label. The album is the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2020 release Jazz Standards, Volume 1: Then. John Sanders of Jazz Music Archives said, “Henry’s playing is often in a rapid abstract blues bop style, somewhat similar to Joe Pass or Barney Kessel, but he has a personal voice all his own. It takes a lot from an artist to lift these standards up one more time, and Robinett and his quartet come through on every track.”

Robinett recorded both volumes 20 years ago, during a period when he was in between albums and bands. With some rare free time, he decided to bring together a few of the top artists from Northern California, including Joe Gilman on piano, Chris Symer on bass, and Michael Stephans on drums, for an impromptu recording session at The Hangar, a Sacramento studio where he was working as an engineer and producer. Each of the musicians is a leader in his own right, with a long resume of recordings and performances with many of the top names in jazz. With Robinett calling the tunes, this group of swinging improvisers recorded enough music for both albums in just two days.

Known for his modern, eclectic sound that melds World music with electric jazz, the Jazz Standards sessions are a departure for Robinett. “I think the Jazz Standards album was just too different from my other work, which made me hesitant to release it,” says Robinett. “But after listening to it again after so many years, I like it. I think it stands up well and shows another side to my playing.”

Robinett has led his own band, The Henry Robinett Group, for many years. The band comprises an evolving cast of musicians playing straight-ahead jazz with elements of Latin and pop. The Henry Robinett Group has released five albums. Their first CD, the eponymous The Henry Robinett Group, received a 4-star review in DownBeat. JazzTimes Magazine said about the group’s 2016 release, I Have Known Mountains, “The dozen pieces that appear here make it plainly clear that Robinett is a man who places a high premium on clarity. His well-thought-out messages, be they focused on tragedy, love, or life's winding road(s), manage to appeal to the ear. If jazz has an accessibility problem, nobody bothered to tell Henry Robinett.”

Jazz Standards, Vol. 2: Then Again, Robinett’s guitar work is swinging and very accessible. Rather than focusing on his considerable chops, he approaches a tune not unlike a vocalist, emphasizing the melody while adding colors through his phrasing and harmonic choices.

About Henry Robinett

Henry Robinett is a jazz guitarist, recording artist, composer, bandleader, and teacher. He has been playing guitar since the age of 13. His early musical influences were Jimi Hendrix and Charles Mingus, who was his father’s first cousin. Robinett lived with Mingus for three months at his apartment in New York City, where he also associated with saxophone great Sonny Rollins and rock legend Joni Mitchell.

Robinett has performed around the world with his group The Henry Robinett Quartet. He now resides in Sacramento, where he built his own recording studio and runs his record label, Nefertiti Records, producing his own records and records for other artists, as well.

His most recent CD with The Henry Robinett Quartet is I Have Known Mountains, the title inspired by the Langston Hughes poem, “I’ve Known Rivers.” He is also a founding member of The Capital Jazz Project and has played with renowned musicians Muhal Richard Abrams, George Lewis, Chico Freeman, Frank Strozier, Gary Bartz, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Bobby Hutcherson, Benny Green, Geoffrey Keezer, and many others. He taught in Vienna, Austria at the American Institute of Music and was on the faculty of the University of the Pacific and Cosumnes River College.

Jazz Standards, Vol. 2: Then Again is set for release on January 8, 2021 on Nefertiti Records and will be available online everywhere.

This story appears courtesy of Mouthpiece Music.
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