D r u m s
Born October 4, 1956, Lenny Robinson has become one of the foremost voices of jazz at the drums. He grew up in Baltimore, Md. in a very rich musical environment. He played piano and organ in his father's church in his early teens. He also played trumpet in both junior high and high school. The love of percussion was felt in the ninth grade and the rest, as they say, is history.
Lenny's first contact with jazz came early in junior high school when he heard a jazz recording on the radio and could not figure out how the drummer could do what he was doing. It turned out that the record was a Max Roach/Clifford Brown record and Max was burning it up. This started Lenny on a journey that continues to this day. He started out by going to listen and sit in with the elder statesmen of jazz in Baltimore. He then enrolled in the Peabody Conservatory of Music under the teachings of Charles Memphis, principal percussionist with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. After a year at Peabody, Lenny transferred to Morgan State University where Mr. Memphis was also on staff. (It was a lot less expensive there.) While attending Morgan, Lenny's first international gig was with Pamoja Experience, a theatrical jazz group that chronicled the black music experience from slave songs to the present. This group toured Europe and performed in places such as the Montreux festival in Switzerland, the Oslo festival, the North Sea festival as well as theatre appearances in various cities in Europe. Shortly after returning from Europe, Lenny was asked to join Jean Carne's band. This band traveled extensively throughout the US sharing concert billings with groups such as The O'Jays, Roy Ayers, The Gap Band and other R&B groups of the early 80's. It was during this time that Lenny felt the need to expand his musical horizons and make the move to New York. The opportunity would come from a most unlikely source.
Uncle Sam wanted Lenny to be a member of the 26th Army Band in Brooklyn, NY. While it would mean actually joining the Army, it would also mean having Uncle Sam pay for Lenny to live there and get established. After going through basic training and the Armed Forces School of Music, Lenny was now in New York and starting to work. He put together a band that included either Onaje Allan Gumbs or Kenny Kirkland on piano, Anthony Cox on bass and John Purcell on reeds. This band performed regularly at 55 Grand, the musicians hang out at the time. This enabled Lenny to play with and establish relationships with musicians such as Mike Stern, Jaco Pastorious, Marcus Miller, the Brecker Brothers, Anthony Jackson, Jeff Watts and many other world class musicians. When Lenny got out of the Army, he stayed in New York and worked for a while, but when his son was born, he and his wife moved to Washington, D.C. in 1986. Although Lenny's primary residence is in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, he still maintains a residence in New York. As a result of Lenny's abilities and experience, he has been able to perform with a number of recording artists. A partial list would include Dewey Redman, Clifford Jordan, Carter Jefferson, Vanessa Rubin, Lou Donaldson, Roy Hargrove, Kenny Barron, Eartha Kitt, Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson, Ahmad Jamal, Keter Betts, John Hicks, Larry Willis, Don Braden as well as the Bill Cosby show "You Bet Your Life". He was a member of the late Stanley Turrentine's working band and is currently touring and recording with Marlena Shaw as well as the saxophonist T. K. Blue.
Lenny's career has also had an educational side. He was part of the adjunct faculty at Cheyney State University in Cheyney, Pa. as well as an instructor for the Living Jazz summer program there. This program was directed by Terrell Stafford, currently director of jazz studies at Temple University. The faculty also included Tim Warfield, saxophonist w/ Nicolas Peyton and other world reknown artists. Lenny most recently was chosen to lead a group and be involved in the Harman Corp.'s Listening To Jazz educational program. This program, which is a partnership between the Harman Corp. and Wynton Marsalis, is designed to go into urban public schools and teach elementary school children the elements of Jazz and to show how these elements go together to create the art that is improvisation. Lenny is currently on the faculty at the prestigious Landon School in Bethesda, Md.
Lenny is the leader of The Lenny Robinson Group as well as the co-leader of Lenny Robinson and ThreeForAll. He has an organ group called the "Organic Trio", which features Harry Appelman on organ and Marshall Keys on saxophone, and the piano-less quartet "Full Compass" which features Thadd Wilson on trumpet, Brian Settles on saxophone and Gavin Fallow on bass .
He is also producing records for his production company Intrinsic Value Productions. Three For All's CD "Premonition" and Antonio Parker's "The Exchange" were the first two projects from this company dedicated to "producing great music from the inside out". The latest is Lenny's new CD "Songs I Like To Play", which features Andrew Adair on piano, Gavin Fallow on bass and has Bob Butta guest on piano for one selection.