Nathan “Jim” Robinson – born December 25th 1892 at Deer Range Louisiana: died May 4th 1976 in New Orleans. Just a little bit of history to get this show on the road!
Jim studied guitar as a kid but took up trombone in the army in the First World War. He returned to New Orleans in 1919 and was good enough to join the Sam Morgan Band in which he was a fixture for a dozen years. He studied with Sunny Henry and worked with Lee Collins in the Gold Leaf Band.
He stayed active during the Depression, mainly with Avery “Kid” Howard and was a regular with the George Lewis Band.. Jim recorded with the Sam Morgan Band in the 1920’s, legendary recordings that have been re-issued many times. He was on the Kid Rena Decca sessions and is of course on most of Bill Russell’s Bunk Johnson recordings. One of the greatest Jazz Band recordings occurred at this time, with Bunk missing, Jim Robinson and George Lewis together with Baby Dodds, Slow Drag and Lawrence Marrero created the great anthem of New Orleans collective jazz improvisation. It’s yours to listen today on American Music AMCD 4. The tune is called “San Jacinto Stomp” – it’s my desert island disc – but more of that later. Now listen to “Ice Cream” with Jim giving it his all and again there are no solos, just jazz. It is on AMCD 2 and by the way, listen carefully to Baby Dodds on the 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 very busy music-filled life. I am not attempting a biography here, my main purpose is to get you to listen to”Big Jim” yourselves! Scathing critics in the mainstream and modern jazz fields have carped at the apparent simplicity of his style, “the agricultural trombone of Jim Robinson” said one critic in the Jazz Journal.
Having spent my life studying, playing, living and loving New Orleans Jazz, I can tell you that more trombone players have tried and given up in frustration trying to emulate the Jim Robinson style. I’m not talking about copying Jim note for note. No one 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 playing in the New Orleans ensemble The above musicians actually created a style – yes – an original creation for us to listen to, enjoy and even emulate.
I can tell you that the thrill of playing and listening to a band in this style is for me “The meaning of life” The quest for the orgasmic wall of rhythmic sound that is not arranged and spontaneous ensemble improvisation is nirvana.
I suppose my desert island disc would be American Music AMCD 2 “When You and I were Young Maggie”
But I send you a warning – this music is addictive – beware! Wait a minute I have got 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’ve got to have that one with me! Look out – here comes another one Jim Robinson stars here on “Moonlight and Roses on GHB