Reginald Robinson

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Reginald R. Robinson
Birth name Reginald R. Robinson
Born (1972-10-19) October 19, 1972 (age 44)
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Jazz
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Piano
Years active 1992 – present
Labels Delmark

Reginald R. Robinson (born October 19, 1972) is an American composer, jazz pianist, performer, educator, performing artist, and studio recording artist who is widely known for his ragtime compositions.[1] In 2004, he received a MacArthur Genius Grant.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]


Robinson was raised by working class parents in Chicago, for many years living in the Henry Horner Homes, a South Side housing project. His interest in older music started at home in 1984 with his older brother Marlando playing music on the guitar and listening to big band jazz recordings on chuck schaden's old time radio classics. Robinson's love for ragtime started In 1986, when he was in 7th grade. Composer/trumpeter Orbert Davis visited his school with a group called From Bach To Bebop through Urban Gateways. They performed a variety of musical works including Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer". This piece intrigued Reginald because though he heard it played many times over by the local ice-cream trucks in his neighborhood he'd never considered it as serious piece of music that he could play himself. Robinson taught himself music; By 1987 his mother purchased a piano from a moving neighbor where he spent the next three years of his life submerged in the self study of music.

In 1988 Robinson paid took a few lessons with Professor Theodore Bargman at the American Conservatory of Music in downtown Chicago.[10] He also briefly studied sightreading with a young pianist named Steve Slowik at a piano retail shop (Field's Piano & Organ Co. located in the 77th block of Ashland on Chicago's south side). Robinson taught himself the intricacies of ragtime piano.

In 1989 he began composing the pieces that would constitute his debut album The Strong Man. In 1992 Robinson was introduce to pianist Jon Weber. Jon helped Robinson make a professional demo of his compositions and arranged for his first public performance at The Green Mill in September 1992. The demo was largely used as part of Robinson's debut release "The Strong Man" the following year for Delmark Records.

The Strong Man was followed by Sounds in Silhouette (1994), and Euphonic Sounds (1998) all released on Delmark Records.

In 2004 Robinson nearly stopped playing the piano until learning that he had won the prestigious John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur "genius" Award. The award recognizes “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” Besides the award financing his continued playing, it boosted his profile in the jazz community and financed the release of his long-awaited self work Man Out of Time (2006). In January 2010, Robinson released a 3 disc compilation called Reflection. This three disc set of over 60 original audio and visual performances features new spanning recordings of works from over 22 years of his writing.

Robinson has absolute pitch.

Selected discography[edit]

  • The Strongman (1993 – Delmark)
  • Sounds in Silhouette (1994 – Delmark)
  • Euphonic Sounds (1998 – Delmark)
  • Man Out of Time (2007 – self-released)
  • Reflections (2010 – self-released)


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott. Reginald Robinson at Allmusic
  2. ^ Reich, Howard. "'Genius' Reginald Robinson Continues Quixotic Mission", Chicago Tribune, February 3, 2009
  3. ^ Reich, Howard. "MacArthur Genius Still Fights for Ragtime, After the Money Runs Out", Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2010
  4. ^ Contemporary Black Biography, Profiles from the international black community, Volume 53, Detroit: Thomson Gale (2006) (biography contains portrait) ISSN 1058-1316
  5. ^ Who's Who in America, 60th edition, 2006, New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who (2005) OCLC 68569284, 62401678
  6. ^ Who's Who in America, 61st edition, 2007, two volumes, New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who (2006) OCLC 76942299
  7. ^ All Music Guide to Jazz. The experts' guide to the best jazz recordings. Second edition, edited by Michael Erlewine, San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books (1996)
  8. ^ All Music Guide to Jazz. The definitive guide to jazz music, Fourth edition, edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, & Stephen Thomas Erlewine, San Francisco: Backbeat Books (2002) OCLC 50477109
  9. ^ Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 30: September 2004 — August 2005, New York: H. W. Wilson Co. (2005) OCLC 54897719
  10. ^ Howard Reich; forward by Ellis L. Marsalis, Jr., Let Freedom Swing: Collected Writings on Jazz, Blues, and Gospel, pg. 265, Northwestern University Press (2010) ISBN 9780810127050