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Robert Spencer


I am a longtime jazz fan and a writer for All About Jazz and Cadence Magazine. I enjoy duckrolls, walks on the beach, peace and justice for all, and old reruns of "Superman."


Article: Unsung Heroes

Evidence Releases Three Long-Overdue Jazz Gems by Pharoah Sanders

Read "Evidence Releases Three Long-Overdue Jazz Gems by Pharoah Sanders" reviewed by Robert Spencer

From the 1995-2003 archive: This article first appeared at All About Jazz in May 1999. Ferrell Sanders came out of Little Rock, Arkansas and hooked up with Mr. Herman “Sonny" Blount, who preferred to be known as Sun Ra and dubbed Sanders “Pharoah." A little later a guy named Coltrane asked Pharoah to join ...


Article: Profile

Billy Bang

Read "Billy Bang" reviewed by Robert Spencer

Violinist Billy Bang is a marvelous bridge from early jazz - his strong influence and tribute subject Stuff Smith - to the most cutting-edge innovations of the avant-garde. His violin playing is astonishingly versatile, encompassing the lyricism of classical playing, a considerable rhythmic sense, and a flair for the dramatic that makes his solos consistently listenable ...


Article: Multiple Reviews

Unsung Recordings by Billy Bang

Read "Unsung Recordings by Billy Bang" reviewed by Robert Spencer

Rainbow Gladiator 1981 Soul Note Expansive and warm, this is one of Billy Bang's best recordings. Tyler had a rough, appealing tone, and he was able to match the passionate lyricism of Bang's own playing. Morris is an uncommonly strong bassist; Rosewoman plays with authority; Dennis Charles is deservedly legendary. The title ...


Article: Live Review

Anthony Braxton at Yoshi's

Read "Anthony Braxton at Yoshi's" reviewed by Robert Spencer

Anthony Braxton's Ghost Trance Festival took Yoshi's the last week of August and introduced West Coast fans to what the master called “the next level of my work." As always, Mr. Braxton's pace and breadth of vision is breathtaking. In the Seventies and Eighties he moved beyond playing simple song forms, stringing composed sections together with ...


Article: Profile

Blue Mitchell

Read "Blue Mitchell" reviewed by Robert Spencer

All About Jazz contributing writer C. Andrew Hovan said it best: “Those of you that are longtime jazz fans, take a few minutes and see how many jazz trumpeters you can name in the next minute. All done? I'm sure many of you remember Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Louis Armstrong, and Buck Clayton, just to name ...


Article: Profile

Hank Mobley

Read "Hank Mobley" reviewed by Robert Spencer

In the Unsung Hero business some are more unsung than others, and Hank Mobley ranks with the most surpassingly unsung. But this is no distinction; it is a tragedy. Miles Davis dissed him, John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins overshadowed him, and the avant-garde and fusion cast him into penniless obscurity. By the time he died in ...


Article: Multiple Reviews

Unsung Recordings by Hank Mobley

Read "Unsung Recordings by Hank Mobley" reviewed by Robert Spencer

Our “Unsung Recordings" section is designed to give you a sense of some of the best recordings of an “Unsung Hero." Here are two of Hank Mobley's greatest - and one of his most intriguing: Soul Station (Blue Note RVG Edition 7243 4 95343 2 2) Rudy Van Gelder made it sound ...


Article: Record Label Profile

Hep to HatHut

Read "Hep to HatHut" reviewed by Robert Spencer

It all started with Joe McPhee, and what better place to start? Werner X. Uehlinger, a Swiss music lover, heard Joe's music and was determined to make sure it was preserved and reached the widest possible audience. In 1975, he founded HatHut Records to put out McPhee's music. He did that, but we can also be ...


Article: Album Review

Archie Shepp: I Know About the Life

Read "I Know About the Life" reviewed by Robert Spencer

I Know About the Life is a 1981 recording, now happily reissued by that splendid avatar of avant-garde music, Werner X. Uehlinger of Hat Hut Records. The rap on Shepp is that after his moment of glory in the Sixties and his no-holds-barred Impulse discs, he lost his edge, or his interest, or his nerve, and ...


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