Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Robinson, Lenny

Robinson, Lenny, drums, educator, producer; b. Baltimore, MD, 4 October 1956.

Robinson played piano and organ in his father's church in his early teens. He also played trumpet in both junior high and high school. 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. 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. 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 p resent. 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 wanted to move to New York, when the Army came calling to have him be a member of the 26th Army Band in Brooklyn, NY. The Army paid for him 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. He has performed with 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 most recently a member of the late Stanley Turrentine's working quintet.

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 currently performing with his Jazz Trio "Lenny Robinson & 3 For All" as well as with Talib Kibwe (TK Blue) and Byron Morris and Unity. His newest endeavour is his "Organic Trio" featuring Marshall Keys on saxophone and Harry Appelman on Hammond. He is also producing records for his production company Intrinsic Value Productions. He currently works with Marlena Shaw.

Three For All: Premonition
As sideperson:
Ron Holloway: Slanted (1993); Sheryl Bailey: Little Misunderstood (1995); Ron Holloway: Groove Update; Chuck Brown: Timeless; Byron Morris & Unity: Live at the East Coast Jazz Festival

Contact information: 
For performances, clinics, master classes or private instruction:
(301) 871-3333

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