Reginald R. Robinson, born and raised in Chicago is a noted pianist/composer of Semi-Classical, Ragtime, Latin American and early Jazz & Blues styles. He is also an educator on ragtime music across the U.S. His first musical experiences were listening to his mother and father play records at home of everything from Classical to R&B music. In 1984 he and his brothers Michael & Marlando started making music after Marlando picked up the guitar. Marlando would have his two brothers accompany him on “home made” instruments and later keyboards. Marlando introduced Reginald to the Big Band Music of the late 1930's and 40's which resulted in Reginald developing a true respect for older music forms. Reginald became interested in playing Ragtime in 1986 while in 7th grade after a city funded arts program visited his school . The program was called “From Bach to Bebop” featuring the multi-talented Jazz trumpet master Orbert Davis with piano and drum accompaniment. The musicians covered many different styles from Beethoven to Miles Davis but Reginald paid close attention when the musicians talked about Ragtime and performed “The Entertainer” by Scott Joplin. He had heard this melody coming from the ice cream trucks every summer but had never heard the song played as a serious piece of music on piano before. After the assembly, Reginald went home and began searching the encyclopedia for any information about Ragtime. Finding out about the great composer Scott Joplin led him to ask his mother about getting a piano. For Christmas that year she got him a small keyboard in which he began to teach himself how to play Ragtime. In June of 1987 just before he graduated from 8th grade and his family moved across town, his mother purchased a real 88 note piano from a moving neighbor. His parents couldn't afford to get him piano lessons, so he began teaching himself how to read and write music from studying out of school music books that were around his home and by comparing note for note ragtime transcriptions to faithful piano roll recordings of the same music. In 1988 he managed to get a job and paid for a few lessons at The American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and also briefly studied site reading with Steve Slowick at a local piano retail shop. In 1992 Reginald met McKinley Olsen while attending a GED program and he introduced Reginald to master pianist/composer and arranger Jon Weber who immediately helped him record his first demo “The Strongman”. Reginald took the demo to record producer of Delmark Records Robert Koester who immediately signed him. Reginald recorded three CD’s for Delmark Records. In September 2004 Reginald received a MacArthur "Genius Grant". Reginald released his fourth album Man Out of Time in 2006. In the summer of 2007 he performed with Orbert Davis who arranged and conducted the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic Orchestra’s historical performance of “Concerto for a Genius” which consisted of four of Reginald’s original compositions arranged for full orchestra. In 2008 Reginald teamed with composer/arranger Kerwin Young, who has produced music for many legendary hip-hop and r&b artists and has also written and arranged many original symphonic works over the years. Kerwin recently arranged two of Reginald’s works for noted Jazz Flutist Nicole Mitchell and FAQtet (a group made up of members from the Chicago Sinfonietta) which was performed at Symphony Center. Between performing and composing, Reginald is at work on his most ambitious creation, a documentary film about the history and development of ragtime music.
(Man Out of Time)
“So here we have a youthful antiquarian in Reginald Robinson not only performing ragtime, but actually expanding the body of ragtime compositions by 20 original and quite appealing pieces”.
…“Robinson is the embodiment of original intent. The music here, though his own, is dedicated to protecting and extending the classical beauty of the form with its structural formalities intact”.-John McDonough
(Man Out of Time)
…”The jazziest piece, number 13 in the lineup, is “Mr. Murphy's Blues” a jaunty tune named for Robinson's uncle, also a pianist. Other tunes including “Head Over Heels, Over You” and “The Amethyst” suggest European classical music inspiration. The Title tune has a strong Scott Joplin feeling, as does “Tears of Joy”.
It's obvious that Robinson is a fine craftsman of ragtime, writing multiple (and often contrasting) themes for the pieces, varying his pianistic expression from section to section and playing with clean, clear articulation. “The 19th Galaxy”, the final piece, is a tour de force of his piano skills”.-Owen Cordle
The Best of 2006
(Man Out of Time)
“Perhaps the most original recording of the year, Robinson's “Man Out of Time” represents a haunting look at the ragtime roots of jazz as well as a brilliant updating of the genre” Each composition on this disc encompasses a sonic world of it's own, from the Melting lyricism of “Janet” to the surging rhythms of “Ansaar” to the stunning virtuosity and cunning historical references of “The 19th Galaxy”. -Howard Reich