Joe Robinson to headline Chronicle Jazz Festival

Joe Robinson to headline Chronicle Jazz Festival
July 27
03:00 2017

By Bridget Elam

As part of the numerous activities for the National Black Theatre Festival, The Chronicle is hosting a Jazz Festival.  And it only made sense to feature local jazz artist Trumpeter Joe Robinson. 

The Jazz Festival will be on Thursday, Aug 3 at the Hawthrone Inn beginning at 10 p.m.  Admission is $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

Robinson, a Winston-Salem native, has been part of the jazz community for more years than he cares to count.  He said his love for music started when he found a bugle in the woods at Happy Hill Gardens as a young child.  From there, he was introduced to Miles Davis, and the rest is history. 

“When I heard Miles for the first time, I knew that was me,” said Robinson.  “I gravitated to Miles because he was militant. At that time, jazz was the only real freedom I had in this country. When I picked up my horn, nobody could tell me what to play or how to play it.”

Robinson played for local school bands in middle school but they were not playing jazz music. As an eighth-grader, he was pulled in by adult musical groups to play at different spots in the area if they could get him in (because of his age). Even then, he played R&B music but added his own jazzy renditions when he was given a solo. Although, Robinson says he was influenced by legends like Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, he has studied many jazz artists.

“I listened to everybody because everybody brings something different,” he said.

Robinson has recorded three albums and says that inspiration continues to come to him.  However, he is quick to caution audiences about the difference between real jazz and smooth jazz.

“When people ask me to play a tune that Kenny G has recorded, I usually decline.  That is not real jazz to me,” he said.  “It’s really R&B with instrumentals. I’ve lightened my music up a little bit to appeal to those audiences, but I want to make sure I keep the jazz framework,” he continued.

Robinson says that Winston-Salem has supported him very well throughout his career and that he has a rich history with the National Black Theatre Festival.

“I’ve been involved with every Festival, even when it was not considered a national event. I was involved when this whole thing was the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and Larry Leon Hamlin later held the first National Black Theatre Festival,” Robinson said. “It’s wonderful to be included with the Festival this year. I thought people had forgotten about jazz.”

James Taylor, The Chronicle’s publisher, says that Joe Robinson was chosen to be featured this year because of his standing in Winston-Salem.

“He [Robinson] is a well-respected and popular artist in our community.  He has been in this for years,” said Taylor.  Taylor hopes that the audience will gain a respect for the jazz genre and that the Jazz Festival will add a little “flavor” to the event. 

For more information on the Jazz Festival, call 336-722-8524. 

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