Rob Brown was born in 1962 in Hampton VA. Rob took up the saxophone at age 12. Early on he was introduced to the music of Charlie Parker and Eric Dolphy by his older brother who also played the saxophone. He played in school concert and jazz bands by age 13 and started playing with a performing/traveling jazz-blues band at age 16. During his first year of college Rob made a serious commitment to developing his music and he moved to Boston in 1981 to study. There he encountered many other young hard working musicians that inspired him and within a couple of years Rob saw the direction he wanted to pursue as an artist, and that Boston was not the best place for him to realise that.
Rob moved to New York in 1984 and established the musical relationships that came to define his career. Immediately he reestablished ties with pianist Matthew Shipp whom he met in Boston in 1982 and continued to develop an improvising language with him. They performed sometimes with a trio or quartet but mainly as a duo and recorded their first album together in 1988 on Cadence. Within a year or two of moving to NYC Rob met William Parker and formed a trio with Denis Charles that explored a slightly more traditional jazz trio improvising language utilizing Rob’s compositions. In 1989 they recorded a cd for Silkheart and Rob’s trio concept continued to evolve, playing with different drummers and bassists producing a number of recordings.
Rob also began working with William Parker’s many ensembles and has continued to be very active with him for almost 30 years, touring Europe and the US and recording at least 18 albums. The most most prolific and steadily working of those groups is Parker’s quartet, formed in 2000 with Lewis Barnes and Hamid Drake. Rob has also been playing with William Parker’s Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra since its inception in the early 1990’s. Rob and drummer Whit Dickey started playing together in the late eighties which led to a trio with guitarist Joe Morris and many other collaborations with Dickey. Rob and Joe also produced many recordings together with different configurations of musicians.
A more recent and ongoing collaboration is with cellist Daniel Levin, which began in 2003. They have produced two trio recordings of Rob’s compositions with percussionist Satoshi Takeshi and a fully improvised duo cd. They’ve toured in Europe and the US and are working on their next cd. Rob has been collaborating with visual artist Jo Wood-Brown since they met in 1996. Often performing live with Jo’s frequent collaborator dancer/choreographer Miriam Parker and/or creating sound for video and other installations.
In addition to working with NYC based improvisors, poets and visual artists since the mid eighties, he has also collaborated with and led projects with Chicago area musicians as well as European improvisers. He also has worked with improvising legends Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Reggie Workman and others. In the 2011 Rob toured Europe with the recently deceased revolutionary poet with Amiri Baraka.
The Vision Festival became an important part of the NYC jazz scene in 1996 and Rob has been very involved since the inception, frequently performing as a leader, sideman, and performing various other tasks as it is an artist run festival which continues into its 19th year.
Rob has recorded 26 albums as a leader or co-leader and many as a sideman. Upcoming is a recording by his new quartet with Kenny Warren on trumpet, Peter Bitenc on bass and drummer Juan P Carletti. Another duo recording with cellist Daniel Levin is also in the works as well as a trio with Levin and the Polish bassist Jacek Mazurkiewicz which is due for release any day. Rob also recorded a quartet under Whit Dickey’s leadership recently that hopefully will be released soon. The most recent release with Rob is the much acclaimed 8 cd boxed set “Wood Flute Songs” by the WP 4tet on Aumfidelity.