When David Foster says you are one of his favorite drummers and Quincy Jones says you are his favorite drummer, you are in a class
of your own. John JR Robinson has played on records that have sold well over 100 million copies. As one of the busiest studio musicians
in history, his concept of time, feel, groove, and style has earned him the title of The Time Machine. These elements are explained in detail, along with amazing performances with John's band Native Son,
made up of world class musicians. This incredible DVD also covers aspects of tuning, miking, technique, and playing with a click track. As JR explains these subjects that are the most important part of a drummers' career, you will see why he has gained the reputation of The Time Machine.
"JR is very charismatic, so he holds your attention when he speaks. And when he plays, his feel is perfect every time. If you're a follower
of Robinson's playing or just a fan of great groove music, this DVD
is for you."
-Billy Amendola, Modern Drummer
"JR has recorded more hits that you've had hot dinners, so if you
aspire to studio playing, you'd better grab this asap."
John JR Robinson
Release Date: 11/9/2010
For John Robinson, one of the great things about being the most recorded drummer in music history is instantly recognizing a sure-fire hit when he hears one—or plays on it.
The minute the Grammy winning musician laid down the groove on Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til’ You Get Enough” for producer Quincy Jones, he knew it would hit the top of the pop charts. Same thing When Russ Titelman first let him hear Steve Winwood’s multiple Grammy winning “Higher Love” and when he played on Eric Clapton’s “Change The World.” When Jones called Robinson to lay the rhythmic foundation for the historic “We Are The World” session, the drummer was aware it would sell millions and have an unprecedented global impact. Realizing that he’s performed on hundreds of pop, rock, jazz and R&B albums that have a combined sales total of over 250 million units, Robinson boldly titles his new solo CD Platinum.
He infuses the eclectic 11-track set, which he recorded at his Home Court Studios, with the same artistry and confidence that he’s brought for years to sessions and live dates with Rufus (he was a full time member from 1978-84), Barbra Streisand, David Foster, Frank Sinatra and Lionel Richie and hundreds of film score dates. While drawing inspiration from the many genres he has worked in, “JR” showcases his multitude of talents beyond the drum kits, playing keyboards (including Fender Rhodes), guitar, bass and percussion. Robinson’s three plus decades of work on pop projects have somewhat obscured his background as first chair, classically trained bossa profundo All-State singer in his native Iowa—but he reminds us by adding his backing vocals on several tracks.
Emerging now as a top-level producer in his own right, Robinson recalls his work with Jones on multi-genre all-star classics like The Dude, Back On The Block and Q’s Juke Joint in building a creatively expansive 11-track set featuring a dynamic cast of musicians from across the spectrum.
These include blues great Keb’ Mo’ (performing lead vocals on the infectious, anthem-like opener “The Beat”) and some of L.A.’s most notable fellow session players, including saxman Bob Sheppard, bassist Neil Stubenhaus, guitarist Michael Thompson, keyboardist Greg Mathieson, bassists Alex Al and Abe Laboriel, Sr. and trumpeter Walt Fowler, as well as famed “Blues Brothers” alto saxman Lou Marini. Another longtime Robinson associate, Hawk Wolinski (who wrote the Rufus classic “Ain’t Nobody”), contributes lead vocals, Hammond B-3, Rhodes and keyboards to various tracks.
Robinson also follows in Jones’ footsteps by introducing to a larger audience several exciting emerging vocalists: Robbie Wyckoff, best known for his tours with Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who sings lead vocals on the soulful R&B ballads “You Understand,” “In Your Eyes” and “Ordinary One”; Amy Keys, who sings on “The Beat,” “Move Over,” “In Your Eyes,” “March Madness” and “Ordinary One”; and Callaway, who does a true star turn as lead vocalist on a powerful cover of the Janis Joplin rocker “Move Over.” Robinson also keeps it all in the family by featuring his multi-talented 25-year-old musician son Chris (aka JJ Hennessy) as a vocalist on the explosive basketball playoffs tribute “March Madness.”
Beyond these in the pocket pop, rock and funk tracks, Robinson, who was a Drum Performance major at Berklee College of Music, draws on his deep jazz roots to create the “out there,” Weather Report-influenced jazz fusion jam “Sunra.” “A Love Supreme” is a mid-tempo soul-funk tune featuring Wolinski on lead vocals, but pays homage to John Coltrane (whose song of the same title is a jazz standard) via Bob Sheppard’s cool tenor improvisations. Another unique piece is the Middle Eastern-flavored “George,” which Robinson wrote with film composer Aaron Zigman and which features Nasser Salameh on Arabic percussion instruments like the dumbek.
“There’s an old adage in the music industry for session musicians
who mess around too much when they’re recording on other people’s projects,” says Robinson, “and that’s ‘save it for your solo record.’ On my first solo album Funkshui (2005) and even moreso on Platinum, I’m really expanding my horizons, showing people who know me primarily as a pop/rock drummer that I am also a songwriter and producer and have a background on several other instruments. Many don’t realize that I actually began playing piano when I was five, three years before I started on the drums. The vibe on Funkshui is similar to Platinum, but I feel that I’ve grown a lot as a writer and this one is a deeper showcase for me as an artist and producer. I’m taking more harmonic liberties while balancing the fun songs with deeper artistic statements. It’s also wonderful to collaborate with some of my favorite musicians of all time and introduce these dynamic new vocalists to the world.”
Every legend in the music industry begins with that one big break, and Robinson’s happened in early 1978 when he was touring with
his own band. Rufus and Chaka Khan came into the club where he was playing and by the third set, the renowned funk band and
their charismatic lead singer were sitting in. A few weeks later, the drummer—who had stayed in Boston after graduating from
Berklee—moved to Los Angeles to finish the 1978 Rufus world tour.
His years of steady recording and playing with Rufus would lead to
a Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals Grammy for “Ain’t Nobody.” Quincy Jones like JR’s work with Rufus and asked if
he did sessions outside the group—which led to Robinson playing on Michael Jackson’s classic Off The Wall and later, the superstar’s Bad.
Over the years, Robinson’s extensive list of all-star credits would eventually surpass the incredible numbers of even the great pop drummer Hal Blaine. The hits he has grooved on include Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” “You Are” and “Say You, Say Me”; The Pointer Sisters’ “I’m So Excited” and “Slow Hand,” David Lee Roth’s “Just A Gigolo,” Steve Winwood’s “Higher Love,” “The Finer Things” and “Back In The High Life,” Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” Natalie Cole’s “Stardust,” Michael Buble’s “Heartache Tonight” and George Benson’s “Give Me The Night.” He has also played on recordings by The Manhattan Transfer, Boz Scaggs, Elton John, Michael McDonald and Andrea Bocelli. Robinson played on Jones’ Live at Montreux album and was part of David Foster’s “Hitman” tour in the Fall of 2009. In addition to playing with Foster every year at the Andre Agassi Foundation’s annual fundraiser in Las Vegas, the drummer was part of Foster’s first PBS special, the highest selling program in the network’s history. He will be performing soon on Foster’s follow-up special.
Robinson is also a first call drummer for film composers, including Christophe Beck and Teddy Shapiro. His list of film credits are nearly as extensive as his pop music resume: “Jerry Maguire,” “Grand Canyon,” “Independence Day,” “Dave,” “Free Willy,” “First Wive’s Club,” “My Cousin Vinny,” “Tropic Thunder,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “Space Jam,” “South Park,” “Hairspray,” “Austin Powers in Goldmember,”
“27 Dresses,” “Yes Man,” “I Love You Man,” “License To Wed,”
“Rush Hour 2,” “Starsky and Hutch,” “Marley and Me” and
“Dinner For Schmucks.”
“I’m very blessed to have the gift of great time,” Robinson says, “and
I think I’ve been successful because I am a good reader and have an interesting lower timbre sound than many other drummers. I build my drum track from the foundation up and the producers and composers who hire me know I am very instinctive and efficient, usually getting the work done in one or two takes—which of course, saves them money. The key is bringing passion and emotion to the studio no matter which genre I’m playing in that day. I put the same amount of energy into a 60 bpm ballad as I put into a 240 bpm bebop tune. In the years in which I was establishing myself, I would take every call, but now I have the luxury of turning down projects that I don’t feel are right for me emotionally, spiritually or physically.
“I’m really excited to have had the opportunity to work with so many great musicians and expand my musical palette more than ever on Platinum,” he adds. “And I’m still not done. Now that I’ve done this more pop-oriented record, my goal for the next one is to do a straight ahead bebop album. I always want to be moving forward in my musical career—and even shocking people with what I can do if I have the chance!”
John JR Robinson
Release Date: 11/4/2004
Grammy Award Winning Recording Artist John Robinson has released his first solo CD Funkshui. With help of the world's finest musicians, Neil Stubenhaus, Gary Grant, Mark Williamson, Jeff Lorber, Ross Bolton, Leland Sklar, Brandon Fields, Paul Jackson Jr., Michael Thompson and Dan Higgins, JR has assembled a collection of original songs sure to please his countless fans. As is evident on past recordings with Rufus and Chaka Khan, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson and Steve Winwood, his signature style is unmistakable. This drumming pioneer has brought to this solo recording his love of Jazz, Funk and Rock and his solid groove. Mastered in the SACD format, which captures the incredible energy of the performances in surround, this listening experience puts you right in the center of the music. Funkshui is a labor of love by one of the greatest musicians of all time. JR's great drumming skills have graced countless hit records in all musical genres. Join the GROOVE!
"Listening to the album it does cover a different collection of styles
from the laid back funky groove thing of Good Ole Times to the
second-line segments of Sister Sadie to the ballad Lullaby For Jack. Production is, as you might expect from a player of this magnitude,
at a high level, and while the drums are very clear and well recorded, the bigger musical picture is well catered for and so thankfully, this isn''t a particularly ''drummy'' record. If you’re a big fan of drum
solos, track eleven will top it all off nicely for you. Solo aside, the
actual recording of the kit was very sweet indeed!" -Mike Dolbear