Q&A: Robin Eubanks
Robin Eubanks is one of the preeminent trombone players in jazz. He has recorded and performed with legends Art Blakey, JJ Johnson, Joe Henderson, Dave Holland and many others. He has also blazed the musical trail as a founding member of M-Base and pioneered in the creation of the first electronic trombone. In addition, he has led and recorded numerous critically acclaimed bands and splits his time performing/recording and teaching at NYU, Oberlin College and the New England Conservatory in Boston.
How or when did you first discover jazz?
I discovered it when I was young and playing in funk bands. I couldn’t improvise very well, so I went to the record shop looking for recordings with trombones on it. I found an Art Blakey record, a Jazz Crusaders record and a JJ Johnson record. I listened to the recorded trombone solos and was scared to death 🙂
Do you remember the first recording you ever purchased?
I think the first recording I ever purchased was either a James Brown or Sly and the Family Stone recording.
Name one of your greatest creative influences and why?
JJ Johnson because he showed that anything was possible to play on a trombone. You may have to work two or three times as hard as other instrumentalist for the same result, but it’s possible to do.
What made you decide to become a musician?
I come from a family of many musicians. My mother is a music teacher and a pianist. My brothers and I heard music all of our lives. Once I found out I could get paid for playing music that I liked, on a trombone, I was hooked.
Name one jazz recording that you cannot live without.
Wayne Shorter JuJu
What is the best thing about playing jazz?
The thing that I like best is that you’re able to completely open up and express yourself. You can create a musical environment with others, while people are observing, listening and appreciating what you’re doing.
Jazz Online’s Robin Eubanks Mix via Spotify
Robin Eubanks focused expression of why and how jazz performance has become the center of his professional life is a monument to clarity of intent. And that intent reminds me of an old recording that is kind of new:
Miles Davis, “Complete Birth of the Cool.” Participation by Kai Winding, trombonist on these tracks: “Jeru”, “Move”, “Godchild”, “Budo”.
Personnel: Miles Davis (trumpet); Kenny Hagood (vocals); Lee Konitz (alto saxophone); Gerry Mulligan (baritone saxophone); Junior Collins, Sandy Siegelstein, Gunther Schuller (French horn); J.J. Johnson, Kai Winding (trombone); John Barber (tuba); John Lewis, Al Haig (piano); Al McKibbon, Joe Shulman, Nelson Boyd (bass); Kenny Clarke, Max Roach (drums).