A second cousin of jazz fountainhead Charles Mingus, Robinett’s first guitar hero was Jimi Hendrix, and he spent much of his career playing fusion. These recordings from 2000, however, reveal him in a more mainstream setting, his approach closer to Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell. Ably backed by pianist Joe Gilman, bassist Chris Symer and drummer Michael Stephans, he explores old favorites with gusto and taste.
Robinett takes “I Thought About You” to its bare essence, his free-flowing legato lines free of pyrotechnics. A similar light touch characterizes “Yours Is My Heart Alone.” “Body and Soul,” long a jazz standard, reveals him alternating between relaxed and double-time passages. The swirling, gale-force arrangement of “It Could Happen to You” allows Robinett to raise the velocity. His pensive approach to “Monk’s Mood” is totally appropriate, yet his lines drill deeply into the song’s harmonic foundations.
The guitarist also added a surprise. His “Milestones” is not Miles Davis’ iconic/often covered ’50s hard-bop instrumental, but the largely forgotten, identically titled bebop composition Davis recorded with Charlie Parker in 1947. He understates in spots, yet keeps it swinging. The medium-tempo treatment of “Darn That Dream” allows him time for exploration, before giving way to Gilman’s keyboard and Symer’s succinct bowed passage.
This article originally appeared in VG’s June 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.