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For every young jazz musician the challenge lies in their ability to develop an original, uniquely identifiable sound. Altoist Justin Robinson, whose sound and approach owe a huge debt to Charlie Parker, has a way to go before he meets that goal. Justin spent some time in the short-lived Harper Brother's band (along with pianist Stephen Scott) and has released one other record under his name (Verve/1991). Scott, who has since carved out a fine career of his own, accompanies Justin again on The Challenge and is the albums' strongest presence. He makes the most of his solo opportunities and his originals, Master Scott and The Challenge, are solid. Robinson's compositions reflect a deep love and respect for his family. No More Sacrifices is an intense 16-bar blues dedicated to his mother, while the ballad Love Thy Father and Adnil, a playful tribute to his younger sister, demonstrate that Justin possess at certain talent for writing. Tenorist Ron Blake augments the quartet on four tunes and his interaction with the leader is pleasantly combative. No real breakthrough here yet, but a solid hard-bop date nonetheless. ***
Jazz is a continuing revelation. The best show I ever attended was the
Roots Picnic at Penn's Landing in Philadelphia, or was it Robert
Glasper's Experiment at Lincoln Center, or was it Chick Corea with
Brian Blade at Oberlin College? Most of all I enjoy playing guitar and
composing beats with my Brooklyn-based group Space Captain.