For his fifth outing as a leader, guitarist Henry Robinett composed a diverse array of music. The result, I Have Known Mountains (Nefertiti Records, 2016), is an eclectic mix of sounds.
Performing with Robinett are Joe Gilman, piano; Tom Brechtlein, drums; Joshua Thurston-Milgrom, acoustic bass; Rob Lemas, electric bass; and Dominic Edward Garcia, congas and timbales.
“Crush” is an easygoing, moderately paced selection. After two passes of the melody, Robinett stretches out. The accompaniment is subtle, yet firmly engaged. After lulling the listener in with notes on the beat, Robinett shift gears to a high-speed series of picks before smoothly working back to the main theme. Timely cymbal splashes enhance this tune.
“What If I Go Sailing?” is a bright, delightful song. The rhythm beat gives it a Caribbean flavor at the outset. It shifts gears briefly for a soothing, calming effect. Then the heat picks up. One can visualize Robinett picking to his heart’s content on the deck of a yacht. Gilman does his part to add to the joy. The music wraps up in a party-time flourish.
For “When Love Returns,” Robinett goes calypso. At nearly nine minutes, it’s one of the longer tracks in this set. The percussion, bass and piano work together like a vintage Latin band. Robinett stretches out plenty, his fingers making the work seem easy. The emotional high is infectious. After Gilman takes a turn, the song reverts to main theme. Then Gilman and the percussionists engage in a call-and-response sequence, setting up the joyful finale.
Robinett studied with the late Charles Mingus. He’s taught at the University of the Pacific, American Institute of Music in Vienna and at various colleges in Northern California. His first album received critical acclaim. And his band, the Henry Robinett Group, has won numerous awards, including Sammies and Sacramento magazine’s Musician and Band of the Year.