Nathan “Jim” Robinson – Born December 25, 1892 in Deer Range Louisiana: Died May 4, 1976 in New Orleans. Just a little history to take this show on the road!
Jim studied guitar as a child, but took trombone in the army in World War I. He returned to New Orleans in 1919 and was good enough to join the Sam Morgan Band, in which he was an integral part of the band for a dozen years. He studied with Sunny Henry and worked with Lee Collins in the Gold Leaf Band.
He was active during the Depression, primarily with Avery “Kid” Howard and was a regular in the George Lewis Band. Jim recorded with the Sam Morgan Band in the 1920s, legendary recordings that have been reissued many times. He was on the Kid Rena Decca sessions and, of course, most of Bill Russell’s Bunk Johnson recordings. One of the best Jazz Band recordings occurred at this time, with Bunk gone, Jim Robinson and George Lewis along with Baby Dodds, Slow Drag and Lawrence Marrero created the great hymn of New Orleans jazz collective improvisation. It’s yours to listen to today on American Music AMCD 4. The song is called “San Jacinto Stomp”, it’s my desert island album, but we’ll talk about that later. Now listen to “Ice Cream” with Jim giving it his all and again there are no solos, just jazz. It’s on AMCD 2, and by the way, listen carefully to Baby Dodds on drums.
Jim toured and recorded countless times with George Lewis and Kid Howard, and made some wonderful recordings under his own name on the Riverside label. This is a small part of Jim Robinson’s music-filled life. I’m not attempting a bio here, my main purpose is for you to listen to “Big Jim” yourself! Scathing critics in the fields of mainstream and modern jazz have complained about the apparent simplicity of his style, “Jim Robinson’s agricultural trombone,” said a critic in the Jazz Journal.
Having spent my life studying, playing, living and loving New Orleans jazz, I can tell you that more trombonists have tried and given up in frustration trying to emulate Jim Robinson’s style. I’m not talking about copying Jim note for note. Nobody would want to copy George Lewis, Jim Robinson, Bunk Johnson or Kid Howard. What we are looking for is the style, the purpose of the instrument in a jazz band that plays in the New Orleans ensemble. The musicians mentioned above created a style, yes, an original creation for us to listen to, enjoy, and even emulate.
I can tell you that the emotion of playing and listening to a band of this style is for me “The meaning of life” The search for the orgasmic wall of rhythmic sound that is not fixed and spontaneous improvisation of ensembles is nirvana.
I guess my album on the desert island would be American Music AMCD 2 “When You and I were Young Maggie”
But I send you a warning: this music is addictive, watch out! Wait a minute, I have another must have! In 1963, Tom Bethel recorded Kid Howard at San Jacinto Hall in New Orleans with Kid Howard, Jim Robinson, George Lewis, George Guesnon, Slow Drag, and Cie Frazier. It’s on GHB 23. I have to have that one with me! Watch out, here comes another one that Jim Robinson stars in “Moonlight and Roses on GHB