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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA professor works to jazz up music scene


    As the son of Grammy-winning jazz musician Paul Horn, Robin Horn grew up in a family of artists. He started playing drums when he was 8 years old, and even got to practice with such names as The Turtles and John Densmore (the drummer from The Doors). A traveling musician, he eventually became one of Yamaha’s top electronic drum set demonstrators. He even has a specialized drumstick designed under his own name. Now, after 17 years at UA, he’s solidly in place as an adjunct professor and artist in residence.

    Daily Wildcat: You have a musical background going back to your grandmother. Could you tell us a little about that?

    Robin Horn: My grandmother was a musician in the early 1900s in New York and she was part of the Tin Pan Alley era. Her name was Frances Sper, and she had her own radio show. She was also the pianist for Irving Berlin. Songwriters during that period often needed professional pianists to be able to play their song ideas, or orchestrate their song ideas. She frequently would orchestrate or play back songs that Irving had written, and also was a songwriter.

    And then my father was the only son that she had. He came up through the big band era. He’s well-known in the jazz-new-age fields. His first break was the Sauter-Finegan big band, and then he played with the Chico Hamilton Quintet, which was a very innovative group during the 1950s. That brought him out to Los Angeles, where he became one of the top Hollywood studio percussion musicians in Los Angeles. He had his own quintet and recorded numerous albums, and I guess I was the next generation in line to carry the torch.

    How do you think growing up in this family shaped you?

    Lots of music in the house, always; a tremendous music collection available to listen to … and then (my father and I) started touring together in 1982. It shaped my life profoundly, in terms of making music, how to play professionally, meeting a lot of people that came over to the house that were famous musicians that my father knew or played with. It was exciting.

    Who can you be found playing music with? Where?

    A group I’ve just joined is called The Newmans. There’s a person by the name of Ron Neuman, who was one of the singers for a group called The Diamonds, which was an oldies group. We’ve done one show up in Oro Valley in the Sun City area, and shortly we’re going to begin doing concerts regionally. A lot of my work at this time is just private functions around town.

    How did you find yourself at the UA?

    I moved here from Los Angeles in 1990 and was doing work for Yamaha as a product specialist and clinician for them. There was a percussion festival that was being held here at the School of Music, I was one of the invited artists. Gary Cook was the professor of percussion studies here at the time. He approached me shortly afterward and asked me if I’d be interested in teaching part time in the percussion studio, and we worked it out.

    These days, I teach the Music 109 course and also drum students in the percussion studio. I’m also pursuing a master’s degree in counseling psychology, so I’m also a part-time student and spending some time at a counseling agency in town, getting some experience in that field. I’m still freelancing as a musician, playing shows from time to time, concerts in the area.

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