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Artist Profiles

Herb Robertson: Abandon in the Moment

By Published: March 25, 2009
Robertson frequently works in Europe with European musicians, and even moved to Berlin for about three years to close the millennium. Playing with and learning the sounds of different musicians pushed Robertson's composing and performing in a free direction. "Now I'm more into the horn and I'm not writing as much: it's not written composition, it's more playing composition," he says.

Robertson's "Sick(s) Fragments" is six short sketches written to provoke the improvisation of his NY Downtown Allstars on Real Aberration (Clean Feed, 2007). On "Parallelisms" (Rubyflower, 2007), he termed the pieces "realizations," again using brief outlines to guide his partners—Evan Parker and pianist Agusti Fernandez—who had all worked together in Guy's orchestra.

Herb RobertsonThe CD was the fourth release on Rubyflower, a label that Robertson co-founded with creative music impresario Dr. Ana Isabel Ordonez to document his music. Its mission has expanded to include other creative musicians, and six CDs have been released to date. The most recent, Each Part A Whole (2008), documents a fully improvised show at The Stone by his MacroQuarktet with trumpeter Dave Ballou

Dave Ballou
Dave Ballou

, drummer Tom Rainey, and bassist Drew Gress
Drew Gress
Drew Gress
. The pieces decisively unfold through dynamic peaks and subdued ebbs, imparting structure and momentum without excess. The two trumpeters met in Fujii's band—their styles are different but complementary, and each prods the improv in new directions. Nearing 60 years old, Robertson is meeting younger trumpeters that he's influenced, like Ballou and Jean-Luc Cappozzo, with whom he recorded the duet CD Passing the Torch (Rubyflower, 2008).

"It's good to know that it's part of a legacy's developed and it's continuing, it's evolving," Robertson reflects. "It's a survivor's music; it keeps going because people keep playing it."

Selected Discography

The Macro Quarktet, Each Part of a Whole: Live at The Stone NYC (Rubyflower, 2007)

Herb Robertson NY Downtown Allstars, Elaboration (Clean Feed, 2004)

Herb Robertson, The Legend of the Missing Link (Splasc(h), 2001)

Herb Robertson/Dominic Duval/Jay Rosen, Falling in Flat Space (Cadence Jazz, 1996)

Herb Robertson Brass Ensemble, Shades of Bud Powell (JMT-Winter & Winter, 1988)

Tim Berne, Mutant Variations (Soul Note, 1983)

Photo Credit

Lindsay Beyerstein

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