Some Small Dive
'Like the very best in this game--Sinatra or Tony Bennett--Robinson makes it all sound so effortless on this truly superb vocal jazz outing.' -- Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz 'The rich tone of Robinson is a delight as he takes us on an excursion into the land of legitimate jazz.' -- John Gilbert, eJazzNews Smooth. Emotionally direct. Musically sophisticated. Mark Robinson's debut recording infuses the Great American Songbook with a sense of discovery and freshness. There's no moribund reverence here. Just heartfelt renderings of 14 tunes, some familiar ("Embraceable You," "I've Got the World on a String") and some rescued from relative obscurity ("I Keep Going Back to Joe's," "Close Your Eyes").This is music that's great for hanging out but that also rewards close listening. Robinson's first musical love is jazz standards - from Cole Porter and Rodgers & Hart to Elvis Costello and Dave Frishberg. But he began his career at 16 as a classical singer, studying voice and music theory with a San Francisco Opera baritone. He went on to perform in London, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Boston. These days, he calls San Francisco home. "I always figured that in my next life, I'd be a crooner," he says. "I'm glad I didn't have to wait that long." ***** All About Jazz Some Small Dive Mark Robinson | Breaking Even Records By Dan McClenaghan published February 19, 2006 If you're going to go after the Great American Songbook -- that is, music by Gershwin, Strayhorn, Mancini, and the like -- you'd better bring some style and distinction to the table. San Francisco-based vocalist Mark Robinson does just that, indeed he does, with Some Small Dive, serving up his personal interpretations of a bunch of time-tested classics. He's got it all: emotional depth, distinctive phrasing -- occasionally a tad off-kilter, but never distractingly so -- and a pure and unaffected straightforward zest of delivery. He's a vocalist obviously in love with the task he's taken on. The disc's title is taken from a line in Billy Strayhorn's 'Lush Life': 'I'll live a lush life, In some small dive...' You could call that tune the highlight, but the set is full of them: Henry Mancini's 'Days of Wine and Roses,' 'A Ghost of a Chance,' the Gershwins' 'Embraceable You,' the Henry 'Sweets' Edison/Jon Hendricks gem 'Centerpiece.' For comparisons, Robinson's vocal style is similar to Hendricks', with a bit more buoyancy in the sound. A beautiful surprise here is Antonio Carlos Jobim's gentle masterpiece 'Waters of March.' Most vocalists who cover this tune go with the Joao Gilberto hush, but Robinson puts some beef into his rendition, without losing the delicacy. Pianist David Austin works the keys with a tinkling fragility, making for a perfect accompanist/vocalist contrast. Like the very best in this game -- Sinatra or Tony Bennett -- Robinson makes it all sound so effortless on this truly superb vocal jazz outing. Track Listing: East of the Sun; Days of Wine and Roses; I've Got the World on a String; Close Your Eyes; A Ghost of a Chance; I'll Remember You; Lush Life; Embraceable You; I Keep Coming Back to Joe's; Just Friends; I'm Thru With Love; Waters of March; Centerpiece. Personnel: Mark Robinson: vocals; David Austin: piano; Bob Blankenship: drums; Jeffrey Burr: guitar; Noel Jewkes: tenor saxophone; Mark Williams: bass. ***** eJazzNews published 2/21/06 By John Gilbert It is a joy to receive an album of jazz standards instead of the usual moronic drivel. The rich tone of Robinson is a delight as he takes us on an excursion into the land of legitimate jazz. 'Days Of Wine And Roses' brings back memories of the great Earl Coleman (Bird's Favorite singer) And that's a accolade of the first order. 'My Foolish Heart' This song has a lyric that is the standard by which all love songs are judged. Mark Robinson pays this composition the respect it deserves. 'I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You' We used to call this tune 'I don't stand a chance with a ghost like you' bada boom...This is a great tune sung gracefully by Robinson. 'I Remember You' is one of my favorites. The melody and words will live forever and again Mark Robinson fills it out superbly. 'I Keep Going Back To Joe's' This piece will hit home to many, me included. 'Centerpiece' Mark Robinson's unique version is indeed unique and the piano of David Austin talks about the blues as he struts along like he's in a Mardi Gras parade.... Wonderful songs and solid interpretations on this fine recording will please the most discriminating ear. 5 Stars.