HENRY ROBINETT — Jazz Standards Then, Volume 1 (review)

HENRY ROBINETT — Jazz Standards Then, Volume 1 album cover Album · 2019 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Guitarist Henry Robinett has been playing jazz since the late 70s, including stints in NYC with big names like Hal Galper, Clifford Jordon, Muhal Richard Abrams and Chico Freeman. Since the late 80s he has been recording as a leader, usually in a somewhat radio friendly style of fusion with influences from around the world. If you are already familiar with his previous albums, then it might come as a surprise that his latest offering, “Jazz Standards Volume 1”, is a set of grooving hard bop played with energy and playful creativity. These tracks were not actually recorded recently, instead, they were recorded back in 2000 and have been sitting on the shelf since then. Apparently Henry gave them a listen again and decided they were worth putting out and it’s a good thing because this is one of the better recordings of these well known tunes in recent years. Its hard breathing new life into songs that have been recorded by so many, it takes a lot from an artist to lift these up one more time, and Robinett and his quartet come through on every track.

Henry’s playing is often in a rapid abstract blues bop style, maybe somewhat similar to Joe Pass or Barney Kessel, but really he has a personal voice all his own, particularly when he goes into a skittering barrage of muted notes as sheets of sound. Pianist Joe Gilman is similar in his playing that mixes in the pocket hard bop with more extravagant excursions that push the band. As a quartet they present a healthy variety from the high speed, “The Way You Look Tonight”, to the mysterious, “Soul Eyes”, and the rambunctious free wheeling chaotic energy of “Invitation”.
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