INTERVIEW/ PREVIEW: Robin Eubanks (Union Chapel 30th April)

Robin Eubanks

On April 30th, International Jazz Day, the main London event  will  again be a concert by the Human Revolution Orchestra. This series of celebratory concerts, instigated by Sean Corby, is not just gaining momentum, it is also clearly growing in scale year by year. 

The first concert in 2013 was held at the small SGI upstairs hall in Brixton. Last year it was at Kings Place Hall One with Bennie Maupin (reviewed here). This year will be at Union Chapel with a special guest, the trombonist ROBIN EUBANKS. Sebastian interviewed him by telephone:

LondonJazz News: I seem to remember that you were once a much more regular visitor to London than you are now?

Robin Eubanks: Yes. I used to play there a lot, with Dave Holland’s quintet, I was in that band for about fifteen years, and before that with Elvin Jones and Art Blakey. And also with my own bands. A lot of Ronnie Scott’s. I spent a lot of time in London so it’s really nice to get a chance…I miss my regular visits there, that’s for sure.

LJN: Have you done an event for International Jazz Day before?

RE: No. This is very much my first appearance for a Jazz Day event but I am very much aware of them.

LJN: How did your involvement with this year’s London concert for International Jazz Day come about?

RE: Sean Corby is a member of the same international buddhist organization that I am, Soka Gakkai International (Note: the concerts are presented by SGI-UK)

LJN: And Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock are also members of SGI?

RE: They are both friends of mine. I know them through music and throuh Buddhism It’s good to have them as leading figures in this organisation

LJN: Could you talk about your association with Buddhism?

RE: I’ve been a buddhist for about 30 years now I started in my in 20s . The philosophy appealed to me, it empowers the individual It means taking responsibility for your life. You have control over the direction, respecting everyone else, creating a world you want to live in. It gave me a concrete way to do it, as opposed to platitudes and things that just sound good – it’s definitely worked for me and helped me to develop my musical voice.

LJN: As a trombonist you have been working with electronics for a long time.

RE: I like making that part of my musical voice – and people enjoy that too. I’ve done for a long time I started back when I was in my twenties. The technology has developed a lot since then, it makes it more accessible, it leaves less of a footprint on stage. Instead of a bunch of pedals I have it all in my computer. I enjoy having different sonic colours, it makes me think differently.

LJN: And you’ve always played a trombone with a plug as opposed to the conventional smaller bore instruments more common in jazz.

RE: Yes, I’ve always played a large bore instrument. It’s a sound closer to what symphonic players have, a bigger darker sound. My first teacher was a bass trombonist . I like playing the lower range, the trigger range, the lower notes doubling bass parts.

LJN: Other projects?

RE: There’s SF jazz collective, I’ve been with that band for about 8 years, there’s another tour next month. There’s no one leader in that band, it’s like a collective, everyone is commissioned to do an original and do an arrangment by the featured composer for the season. The leader is a rotating kind of thing, it depends on what songs are called.

LJN: And you teach?

RE: Yes right now I’m betweeen teaching at Oberlin and a residency teaching in Seattle.

LJN: Do you keep in touch with Dave Holland?

RE:  Yes, we are still very close, and  we’ve been talking about maybe getting something together next year.


The first half of the Ode to the Human Spirit concert will consist of original repertoire by members of the orchestra, including Nadiem Teimoori, Simon Purcell, Yazz Ahmed, Noel Langley and Jason Yarde. 

The second half will feature Robin Eubanks as soloist with the band, including a chart which Eubanks wrote for the Mingus Big Band, and either a solo for Eubanks or a duet with Jason Singh.

LINK:  Tickets for the 2015 Concert at Union Chapel

Categories: miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. The line up on the night will feature:

    Robin Eubanks, Randolph Matthews, Jason Singh, Jason Yarde

    Yazz Ahmed, Mick Ball, Byron Wallen, Noel Langley, Sean Corby

    Gemma Moore, Denys Baptiste, Nadim Teimoori, Martin Speake, Christian Brewer

    Rich Henry, Nat Cross, Jon Enright, Harry Brown

    Simon Purcell, Rod Youngs, Carl Orr, Larry Bartley

    Neville Murray, Graeme Evelyn, Nigel Thomas and Cosimo Cadore

  2. Sounds excellent. It's a shame though that Robin's brother Kevin isn't involved – I'm pretty sure he too is a practising Buddhist…and sh*t-hot guitarist of course…

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