Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.

Doug Robinson

Music for Silly Squirrel

I met Doug Robinson in the early ’90s when JAZZIZ was in Time Warner’s Music Group. Back in those days, when print was one of the only ways to learn about new music and JAZZIZ was the only magazine delivered monthly with a CD inside, execs at Warner were hell-bent on creating various genre-specific magazines (classical, rock, country, etc.). The company’s “more is better” mentality induced other genre magazines, including ours, to publish 16 issues a year (one each month supplemented by special quarterly issues). To achieve this, I created themed JAZZIZ quarterlies. The first theme I chose was “jazz keyboardists.” For the music that would be included on the accompanying CD, I sponsored a talent search that was judged by Dave Brubeck, Bob James and me. One of the winners was Doug Robinson

There’s an interesting story behind almost every winner of our talent search. John Serry, for example, who earned top votes from Brubeck and James, was coincidentally the guy from whom, a decade earlier, I stole the name JAZZIZ. (It was the title of his second solo album.) Another winner, Randy Porter, told me he had purposely submitted a track he knew the judges would like. Later, while talking to Gino Vannelli, I told him the story and he invited Porter to join his band.

Doug Robinson and I ended up hitting it off on a personal level. He lived in San Diego at the time, and we’d talk on the phone about music and life. I remember getting together with him for breakfast during a trip to the West Coast. He brought a gift for my then 3-year-old daughter Alexa. It was a purple stuffed animal — a ferret — that Alexa adored and named “Silly Squirrel.” Even today, though she’s about to finish college, she still remembers Doug (and still has Silly Squirrel). For me, that gesture was symbolic of Doug Robinson, a wonderful man and talented player.

In the late ’90s, I wanted to offer JAZZIZ subscribers a special holiday album that didn’t include schlocky Christmas music. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find anything new or exciting that I thought our readers would enjoy. Then Doug told me about a Christmas album he made that included some of the greatest musicians in the world: drummer Peter Erskine, guitarists Mike Miller and Steve Laury, bassist Dave Carpenter, saxophonist and flutist Bob Sheppard, and of course Doug on piano. It’s a gem — a superbly swinging jazz album that just happens to have a Christmas theme. We hope you enjoy it.

From everyone at JAZZIZ, happy holidays.


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