Orphy Robinson


Orphy Robinson is an award-winning multi Instrumentalist Known Primarily as a Vibraphonist. Robinson, also plays the saxophone, trumpet, drums, piano, marimba and steel pans . Orphy (an in demand and versatile composer) has written music for television, film, theatre, opera and contemporary classical music. Orphy is from London, UK—an acclaimed soloist who consistently works across a variety of eclectic musical forms (e.g. jazz, free jazz, free improvisation, jazz fusion, and funk music.

He released two critically acclaimed solo albums on the famous Blue Note label in the 1990s, “When Tomorrow Comes” and “The Vibes Describes”, which was launched at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Orphy has recorded numerous albums as a guest musician. He has also toured or appeared with many artists including Hugh Hopper[1] and Robert Wyatt. Audiences discovered his playing while he played with saxophonist Courtney Pine in the 1980s big band Jazz Warriors[2] (which was the fore runner to the Jazz Jamaica all stars orchestra. Orphy was also an original member of the Brit Funk Band Savanna, which was where he first came to the notice of critics and audiences alike.

His work as a composer has led to commissions for Contemporary Dance companies like the Phoenix Dance for whom he was commissioned to write the Suite “42 Shades in the black “and subsequently represented Great Britain at the Atlanta Olympic Games, Has written for the English Proms at the Royal Albert Hall and for the Romanian violin virtuoso Alex Balanescu. He was commissioned in 2007 for the UK celebration of the Abolition of Slavery Act, where he was invited to perform solo marimba extracts from his suite “Routes through Roots” in the Houses of Parliament. He is also well known for his work in education with schools and large-scale education projects including the Hackney Empire were he has led the music Education department successfully for 10 years.

Orphy has also worked with artist such as saxophonist David Murray, Don Cherry, John Tchicai, Lester Bowie, Wynton Marsalis, Hugh Masekela, Louis Moholo, Nana Vasconcelos, Andy Sheppard, Evan Parker, Butch Morris, Springheel Jack, Sunny Murray, Mica Paris, Imagination, Savanna, Central Line, Junior Giscombe, Kenny Thomas, Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick, Kate Havnevik, Neneh Cherry and many others. Orphy has continued working with award-winning saxophonist Andy Sheppard and regularly conducts up to 200 saxophonists for Andy Sheppard’s Saxophone Massive at various International Jazz festivals and other events.

During 2009 several albums featuring Orphy as Guest soloist were released these included “No now is so! by the Alexander Hawkins ensemble, “Out of office” by the “Burn out Mama” band from Finland, further albums by Louis Moholo, Leee John and Beggar & Co are due for release in late 2009. Orphy’s continued work in Education was recognised nationally with a nomination for Jazz Educator of the year at the All party Parliamentary Jazz Awards. He was also invited to become the Musical Director of a newly formed large scale Ensemble based at The Roundhouse working with drummer Nick Mason of Pink Floyd started in the later part of 2009.

Robinson is also a founder member of EDGE (The Shape of things to come) along with Straight no Chaser magazine’s Paul Bradshaw and journalist Jason Jules they Promoted events originally pitched as a fringe to the London Jazz Festival, due to the success of their first well received programme titled Edge 08 they have now curated events Internationally and across a wide spectrum of Arts Platforms. In 2012 Bradshaw and Robinson went on to successfully launch the large scale project Sacred music, Sacred Spaces bringing a radical new reading of the John Coltrane “A Love Supreme “this was well received by critics and audiences alike. Paul Bradshaw has put the resources of his online magazine “Ancient to Future” firmly behind the project that has now undertaken two more sold out performances at the South bank Centre’s “Meltdown” Festival in 2014 curated by James Lavelle.

Orphy had also launched a large scale Ensemble “The Spontaneous Cosmic RawXtra” at the Kings Place concert venue in October 2009.

Since 2009 Orphy has been a featured soloist on Marimba/Vibraphone with the Virtuoso violinist Nigel Kennedy. Performing extensive repertoire from Johann Sebastian Bach & Duke Ellington,Vivaldi,Hendrix this has resulted in favourable Press reviews on the 2010 world tour with Kennedy’s newly created Orchestra the “Orchestra of Life”. In 2011 they undertook a world tour to promote the latest album from Kennedy “The Four Elements:” released on SONY CLASSICS while also touring a radical new re- imagining of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”. A new album recording of the Vivaldi project should see a release date in 2015. Another project  “Bach to the Future” has debuted on the International concert circuit during 2014 and an album recording is expected in late 2014 with further International tours planned during 2015.

Orphy also relaunched the Brit funk band Savanna at the 2010 Summer Soulstice festival in London. Followed up by a name change “Nu Savanna” with touring and recordings planned for the near future.

2012 saw Orphy busy guesting with a mixture of high profile Artists these have included performing with Pulitzer prize nominee and Trumpet maestro Ishmael Wadada Leo Smith to critical acclaim as well as a memorable appearance with the Uber hip New York Nublu Cafe musicians led by Ilhan Ersahin’s Istanbul Sessions. Orphy is currently touring with “Black Top” a new collaboration with Pianist Pat Thomas with an ad hoc series of concerts featuring special guest artist Saxophonist Steve Williamson, further concerts have feature award winning musicians Trumpet player Byron Wallen and Vocalist Cleveland Watkiss.

Orphy is the Vice chairman of Hackney Community College Alumni.
Orphy sits on the board of Directors for the newly reformed Jazz Warriors International. He is a member of the advisory board for Participation and Learning at The famous East London venue ‘The Hackney Empire.’ He also sits on the board of Directors for The Vortex Jazz venue.

Orphy has spearheaded a successful new Education initiative in the London borough of Newham in conjunction with the Newham Music Hub.’ The Newham Young Peoples Dub Orchestra” was launched into schools in 2013 – 2014 school year.

It is hoped that this initiative will be extended in to other areas of the country in the future.

The group ‘Black Top’ was formed in 2011 by Orphy and Free Improv Pianist/Electronics stalwart Pat Thomas. An album, Black Top No1, was released in July 2014 on The Babel record label featuring saxophonist Steve Williamson to critical acclaim.

A Selected Discography

As Leader

  • When Tomorrow Comes, (1993) Album Blue Note Records
  • The Vibes Describes, (1994) Album   Blue Note Records
  • The Funky end of things (1993) Ep  Blue Note Records
  • Life (1994) Ep  Blue Note Records
  • Black Top Number one featuring Steve Williamson (2014) Babel Label

As Sideman

Film & Television