Sunday, 31 August 2008

Robin Kenyatta - Terra Nova

71.1 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Atlantic SD 1644

Kenyatta recorded most of this album with some of the superstars of 60s and 70s Jamaican music, basically laying jazz licks over reggae covers of tunes from various genres. Considered one of his most successful stabs at this type of fusion, it hearkens back to the glory days of ska when
jazz-infused horn sections took front stage.

Bio by his daughter Ayo for his 2004 obituary at JazzHOUSE:

Saxophonist and educator Robin Kenyatta, whose bright career included service with Sonny Stitt, Dizzy Gillespie and B.B. King, died in his sleep on Tuesday, October 26, 2004, in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he was preparing for a sold-out concert in Lucerne. He was sixty-two years old. Born Robert Prince Haynes on March 6, 1942, in Monk's Corner, South Carolina, Bobby, as he was affectionately called by his family, was the third child of Thomas and Rebecca Haynes. He moved to New York with his family at the age of four.

While in high school, at fourteen, he began playing the alto saxophone. After graduation he spent two years playing as a sideman in local clubs and had his first gig at 19 at a hotel in the mountains of the Jewish Borscht belt. In 1962 he enlisted in the Army where he played in the jazz band. During that time, he met the composer
Russell Garcia and learned to write music while perfecting his sound on the tenor, alto, and soprano saxophones and flute. After two years, he went back to the clubs of New York and formed his first band, which played the music of his heroes, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Ben Webster. Likening his music style to that of his political idol, Jomo Kenyatta, Robert Prince Haynes forevermore became known as Robin Kenyatta.

At 23, he got his first chance to record when he supported pianist Valerie Capers on her 1965 album Portrait in Soul. The next year, he performed on Sonny Stitt's album
Deuces Wild: Introducing Robin Kenyatta, which announced his arrival to the jazz world. His own first album, Robin Kenyatta: Until, released in 1968, showcased his love and savvy for avant-garde and be-bop styles.

In 1969, he went to Paris for two weeks and stayed for three years. Upon moving back to New York, he landed a contract with Atlantic Records. His version of ''Last Tango in Paris'' garnered industry respect for his incredible sound and became one of his biggest hits. While with Atlantic, he went on to record Gypsy Man, Terra Nova and Stompin' at the Savoy, the latter of which led critics to christen him "The Magician of Swing".
Robin felt that American jazz was becoming too conservative and status quo and went back to Europe, where the audiences embraced him and his musical style.

While making his home in Switzerland, he traveled the world sharing his music with jazz lovers. In over thirty years in Europe he performed at some of the most esteemed jazz festivals of the world, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival, and with incomparable performers like
Dizzy Gillespie, George Benson and B.B. King, just to name a few. Although not on a major record label for many years, Robin continued to record and produce albums featuring music he instinctually knew audiences wanted to hear. With a discography of over twenty records, Cool Blue, recorded in New York in 2001, was an autobiographical album that reflected the maturing of Robin's music and person, and his desire to return to his roots.

Between concerts, he taught at the Ecole de Jazz Musique Actuelle and later founded Hello Jazz Music School, both in Lausanne, Switzerland. Robin loved teaching adults and children the fundamentals of jazz while they also learned how to play various musical instruments. In 2002, this love of teaching opened the door for his return home to the United States and his reintroduction to the American jazz scene. Robin landed a job he enjoyed immensely, teaching several music courses to business students at Bentley College in Waltham, MA, the alma mater of his daughter.

January of 2003, at the Regatta Bar in Boston, marked Robin's first performance in America in over twenty years. Robin followed up that performance with several more in New York and Boston. Never one to just sit home, Robin enjoyed looking up old friends and colleagues from his early days in New York, and took great satisfaction in reintroducing himself to old fans while making new ones.
Over the last year, the music that Robin became incredibly passionate about and longed to record was his jazz interpretations and arrangements of American Negro Spirituals.

A consummate professional and performer Robin loved keeping his audiences guessing as to what was next for him musically. A natural charmer with a smile that could warm the coldest heart, Robin was a musician that commanded and demanded respect of his music. His regal dress and distinctive style told the world that he was a step above the rest. He was a man who loved life and looked forward to garnering the acclaim he had once achieved in the 60's and 70's.

AMG Bio by Ron Wynn

Though an often fierce and spirited alto saxophonist, Robin Kenyatta has enjoyed a rather uneven career, particularly in terms of recordings. His best material has been in the hard bop and free vein, where his solos have been both intense and imaginative. Other times he's done more contemporary material that's been overproduced and unmemorable. Kenyatta played with Bill Dixon in the mid-'60s, and was featured during a series of New York concerts Dixon co-sponsored called "The October Revolution in Jazz." He recorded with The Jazz Composer's Orchestra, Roswell Rudd, Sonny Stitt, Dixon (
Intents & Purposes), Archie Shepp (For Losers & Kwanza) and Barry Miles in the mid and late '60s, before heading his own bands. Kenyatta recorded with Alan Silva and Andrew Hill in the '70s. During the late '70s, flirted with instrumental pop (Ed.: plus discofunk and blues - he also appeared on Midnight Movers, Unltd.'s Follow The Wind, Hidden Strength's Hidden Strength and Luther Allison's Night Life); in the '80s and '90s has tried to find a comfortable middle ground between fusion, instrumental pop and his hard bop and free music roots. Kenyatta has recorded for Vortex/Atlantic, ECM, ITM and Jazz Dance.

Robin Kenyatta - Flute, Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Gladstone Anderson - Piano
Hux Brown - Guitar
Radcliffe "Dougie" Bryan - Guitar (Rhythm)
Winston Grennan - Drums
Boris Gardiner - Bass (Electric)
Winston Wright - Organ
Neville Hinds - Piano, Piano (Electric)
Clifton "Jackie" Jackson - Bass (Electric)
Sonny Burke - Organ
Ron Carter - Bass (Electric)
Carlos Garnett - Sax (Tenor)
Jonas Gwangwa - Trombone, Horn Arrangements
Ray Lucas - Drums
Ralph MacDonald - Percussion, Conga
Enrico Rava - Trumpet
Pat Rebillot - Piano, Piano (Electric)
Betty Davis - Vocals

1 Temptation Took Control of Me (And I Fell)
2 Need Your Love So Bad
3 Terra Nova
4 You Are the Sunshine of My Life
5 Freedom Jazz Dance
6 Mother Earth (Provides for Me)
7 Touch
8 Island Shakedown

AMG Review by Thom Jurek
Backing off a bit from the outright funky fusion of 1972's Gypsy Man, Terra Nova nonetheless finds saxophonist Robin Kenyatta still indulging his newfound love of electricity and rhythmically altered jazz-funk tempered by his newfound love of Caribbean music. This Michael Cuscuna-produced date showcases Kenyatta's alto in three different settings -- though half of them feature him in an octet with a pair of electric guitarists and two pianists, an organist, bassist, drummer, and no less than Ralph MacDonald on percussion. The feel on most of these cuts is informed by bubbling funky reggae and calypso. Eric Kaz's "Temptation Took Control (And I Fell)" and " Mother Earth (Provides for Me)," Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life," Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" and the originals "Island Shakedown" and the title track (that add saxophonist Carlos Garnett, trumpeter Enrico Rava, and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa), are all drenched in these rhythms. The remaining two numbers include a tough, Ray Charles- inflected soul-jazz version of Little Willie John's "Need Your Love So Bad," and the straight up proto-smooth jazz tune "Touch." These latter two numbers make the recording feel a bit schizy, but nonetheless extremely enjoyable -- though in 1973 it must have felt like it was coming from left-field -- and has dated well. This is a prime example of the wide range of musical interests Kenyatta attempted to integrate during the '70s. Wounded Bird finally made this set available on CD in 2008.


1967 Robin Kenyatta: Until
1969 Beggars & Stealers at Nine Sisters
1970 Girl From Martinique at Mutant Sound + People/Profit
1972 Gypsy Man excerpts at vinyl4giants
1972 Looking For A Free State at the growing bin
1973 Terra Nova at Soundological
1974 Stompin' At The Savoy
1975 Nomusa at Nine Sisters
1976 Encourage The People at My Favourite Sound
1979 Take The Heat Off Me
1987 Live at Cully: Blues for Mama Doll
1991 Ghost Stories
2001 Cool Blue

If you're not familiar with Robin Kenyatta territory then Soundological is happy to help you explore new lands HERE or HERE.


Solomon said...

Thank you.

cheeba said...

My pleasure, Solomon!

Gorgon Jr said...

This is truly full of some live heaters,
many respects

cheeba said...

Glad you enjoy it, Gorgon! IMHO it's almost as good as an Ossie LP and better than most of the Dean Frasers too!

E-mile said...

hi cheeba just had the time to give this a spin, nice, unknown Terra Incognita de moi!
fav until now is need your love so bad, a killer...
thanks & peace, E-mile

avocado kid said...

wow, very interesting. Always curious about reggae-jazz fusions.

cheeba said...

Hope you like it, AK! If you're interested in jazz-regga fusions, a few other names to check out are Ossie Scott, Dean Fraser & Ernest Ranglin who have done a lot of it over the years. Boris Gardiner has done some too but his stuff is pretty spotty quality-wise.