Orphy Robinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Orphy Robinson
Orphy Robinson.jpg
Orphy Robinson
Background information
Born (1960-10-13) October 13, 1960 (age 53)
Origin London, England
Genres Jazz
Occupations Musician, composer
Instruments Vibraphone
Years active 1986–present
Labels Blue Note
Associated acts Jazz Warriors, Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard, Nigel Kennedy
Website Orphy Robinson on Myspace
Notable instruments
Vibraphone, Marimba, Steel Pans, Percussion, Trumpet, Saxophone

Orphy Robinson (born 13 October 1960) is a British vibraphonist and multi-instrumentalist,of Jamaican descent who also plays the saxophone, trumpet, drums, piano, marimba and steel pans. He has written music for television, film, theatre, opera and contemporary classical music. Robinson is from London, UK, and works across a variety of eclectic musical forms (jazz, free jazz, free improvisation, jazz fusion, and funk music).


Orphy Robinson released two critically acclaimed solo albums on the Blue Note label in the 1990s, When Tomorrow Comes and The Vibes Describes, which was launched at the Montreal Jazz Festival, and has recorded numerous albums as a guest musician. He has also toured or appeared with many artists including Hugh Hopper[1] and Robert Wyatt. Audiences discovered his playing while he played with saxophonist Courtney Pine in the 1980s big band Jazz Warriors[2] (which was the forerunner to the Jazz Jamaica all stars orchestra). Robinson was also an original member of the Brit funk band Savanna, in which he first came to the notice of critics and audiences.

His work as a composer has led to commissions for contemporary dance companies including the Phoenix Dance, for whom he was commissioned to write the Suite "42 Shades in the Black". Robinson subsequently represented Great Britain at the Atlanta Olympic Games, has written for the English Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and for the Romanian violin virtuoso Alexander Bălănescu. In 2007 for the UK celebration of the bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, Robinson was commissioned and invited to perform solo marimba extracts from his suite "Routes through Roots" in the Houses of Parliament. He is also well known for his work in education with schools and large-scale education projects, including at the Hackney Empire, where he has led the Music Education department successfully for six years.

He has also worked with such artists as saxophonist David Murray, Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela, Louis Moholo, Nana Vasconcelos, Andy Sheppard, Evan Parker, Butch Morris, Springheel Jack, Sunny Murray, Mica Paris, Imagination, Savanna, Central Line, Junior Giscombe, Kenny Thomas, Jean-Paul "Bluey" Maunick, Kate Havnevik, Neneh Cherry and many others. Robinson has continued working with saxophonist Andy Sheppard and regularly conducts up to 200 saxophonists for Sheppard's "Saxophone Massive" at various international jazz festivals and other events.

During 2009, several albums featuring Robinson as guest soloist include No Now Is So! by the Alexander Hawkins ensemble, Out of Office by the Burn Out Mama band from Finland, and further albums by Louis Moholo, Leee John and Beggar & Co. Robinson's continued work in education has been recognised nationally with a nomination for Jazz Educator of the year at the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Awards. Starting in the latter part of 2009, he was invited to become the musical director of a newly formed large-scale ensemble based at The Roundhouse, working with drummer Nick Mason of Pink Floyd.

Robinson is also a founder member of EDGE (The Shape of Things to Come) a group of artists, writers and promoters curating events originally pitched as a fringe to the London Jazz Festival. Due to the success of their first well received programme, entitled Edge 08, they are now curating events internationally and all-year round events in the UK. Robinson also launched his new large-scale ensemble "The Spontaneous Cosmic RawXtra" at King's Place concert venue in October 2009.

Since late 2009 Robinson has been a featured soloist on Marimba/Vibraphone with Famed Violinist Nigel Kennedy, performing an extensive repertoire from Johann Sebastian Bach Antonio Vivaldi The Four Seasons, Jimi Hendrix and Duke Ellington, which has resulted in favourable press reviews from the 2010 world tour onwards with Kennedy's newly created "Orchestra of Life".

Robinson relaunched the Brit funk band Savanna at 2010 Summer Soulstice festival in London.

Orphy is a Director within the newly reformed Jazz Warriors International; they are actively building and delivering new education programmes as well as creating different music ensembles within the organisation.

The group Black Top was formed in 2011 by Orphy and Free Improv Pianist/Electronics stalwart Pat Thomas. An album, Black Top No1, is due for release in mid-2014 on The Babel record label featuring saxophonist Steve Williamson.


As leader

  • When Tomorrow Comes (1993) Blue Note Records
  • The Vibes Describes (1994) Blue Note Records
  • The Funky End of Things (1994) Blue Note Records
  • Life (1994) Blue Note Records
  • Pyrotechnics (1993) Blue Note Records

As a leading member of a group

  • Savanna, I can't turn away (1981)
  • Savanna, Never let you go (1982)

As guest musician

Film and television

  • Blood Rights, BBC Drama, Episode 1 (1990), composer
  • Blood Rights, BBC Drama Episode 2 (1990), composer
  • Blood Rights, BBC Drama Episode 3 (1990), composer
  • Men of the Month, BBC Films Screen Two (1994), composer
  • Bollywood Queen, Arclight films (2002), performer
  • Amos Vogel & Cinema 16, Film as a Subversive Art, The Sticking Place (2004), composer
  • The Republic of Love, Dan Films (2003), performer
  • Eagle Star, 3 commercials (1993), composer/performer


  1. ^ Kelman, John (2008-02-17). "Clear Frame". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-04-11. 
  2. ^ Yanow, Scott. "Orphy Robinson: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-04-11.