Joe Robinson

While I'm Waiting

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Contrary to what some members of the "Manhattan bop police" would have you believe, one doesn't need a New York address to be a "Young Lion" (that is, a younger musician who takes up straight-ahead jazz). One doesn't even have to be a United States citizen; younger bop and post-bop musicians have been making their presence felt all over the world -- not only in the U.S., but also in Europe, Japan, and parts of Latin America. Joe Robinson has been contributing to the British jazz scene since the '80s, and While I'm Waiting is a pleasing illustration of his talents. The tenor saxophonist doesn't do anything innovative or forward-thinking on this 2001 session, but he does provide an enjoyably lyrical dose of '60s-minded post-bop. Although Robinson swings, he doesn't do it in an overly aggressive fashion. His playing tends to be very contemplative and introspective, and that is true on four original pieces as well as performances of Kenny Barron's "Voyage" and Wayne Shorter's "Penelope." Shorter, in fact, is among Robinson's various influences -- when the British saxman solos, one hears elements of Shorter, Joe Henderson, and John Coltrane as well as Stan "The Sound" Getz. This is an interesting combination of influences; Robinson obviously admires the post-bop tenor players who emerged in the '60s, but it's clear that he also craves the breathy, Lester Young-influenced tone that Getz developed in the '40s. Thankfully, Robinson is blessed with sidemen who understand where he is coming from; the improviser's acoustic rhythm section consists of pianist John Donaldson, bassist Simon Thorpe, and drummer Spike Wells. While I'm Waiting won't down in history as an album that points jazz in any new directions, but it's a solid, likable example of the sort of talent that the British jazz scene has to offer.

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