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Reginald R. Robinson (born October 19, 1972) is an American jazz and ragtime pianist.[1] In 2004, he received a MacArthur Genius Grant.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Reginald R. Robinson
Born (1972-10-19) October 19, 1972 (age 46)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresJazz, ragtime
Years active1992 – present


Robinson was raised by working class parents in Chicago, for many years living in the Henry Horner Homes, a West Side housing project. His interest in older music started at home in 1984 with his older brother Marlando playing guitar and listening to big band jazz on Chuck Schaden's old-time radio show. Robinson's love for ragtime started in 1986, when he was in 7th grade. Trumpeter Orbert Davis visited his school with a jazz group called From Bach to Bebop through Urban Gateways. The group performed a variety of musical works, including Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer". This piece interested him. Although he had heard it many times from the ice-cream trucks in his neighborhood, he had never considered it a serious piece of music. Robinson taught himself music. By 1987 his mother purchased a piano from a neighbor who was moving. He spent the next three years of his life submerged in the self study of music.

In 1988 Robinson took three lessons with Theodore Bargman at the American Conservatory of Music in downtown Chicago.[10] He also briefly studied sight-reading with a young pianist at a piano retail shop. Robinson taught himself how to compose music in various styles including piano ragtime.

In 1989 he began composing the pieces that would constitute his debut album, The Strongman. In 1992 he was introduced to pianist Jon Weber. Weber helped him make a professional demo of his compositions and arranged for his first public performance at The Green Mill in September 1992. The Strongman was followed by Sounds in Silhouette (1994), and Euphonic Sounds (1998), all released on Delmark Records.

In 2004 Robinson nearly stopped playing the piano until learning that he had won the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation "genius award". Besides the award financing his continued playing, it boosted his profile in the jazz community and financed the release of his album Man Out of Time (2006). In January 2010, Robinson released a three-disc compilation called Reflections.

Robinson has absolute pitch.


  • Man Out of Time (self-released, 2007)[11]
  • Reflections (self-released, 2010)
  • Euphonic Sounds (Delmark, 1998)
  • Sounds in Silhouette (Delmark, 1994)
  • The Strongman (Delmark, 1993)


  1. ^ Yanow, Scott. Reginald Robinson at Allmusic
  2. ^ Reich, Howard. "'Genius' Reginald Robinson Continues Quixotic Mission", Chicago Tribune, February 3, 2009
  3. ^ Reich, Howard. "MacArthur Genius Still Fights for Ragtime, After the Money Runs Out", Chicago Tribune, January 24, 2010
  4. ^ Contemporary Black Biography, Profiles from the international black community, Volume 53, Detroit: Thomson Gale (2006) (biography contains portrait) ISSN 1058-1316
  5. ^ Who's Who in America, 60th edition, 2006, New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who (2005) OCLC 68569284, 62401678
  6. ^ Who's Who in America, 61st edition, 2007, two volumes, New Providence, New Jersey: Marquis Who's Who (2006) OCLC 76942299
  7. ^ All Music Guide to Jazz. The experts' guide to the best jazz recordings. Second edition, edited by Michael Erlewine, San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books (1996)
  8. ^ All Music Guide to Jazz. The definitive guide to jazz music, Fourth edition, edited by Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, & Stephen Thomas Erlewine, San Francisco: Backbeat Books (2002) OCLC 50477109
  9. ^ Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 30: September 2004 — August 2005, New York: H. W. Wilson Co. (2005) OCLC 54897719
  10. ^ Howard Reich; forward by Ellis L. Marsalis, Jr., Let Freedom Swing: Collected Writings on Jazz, Blues, and Gospel, pg. 265, Northwestern University Press (2010) ISBN 9780810127050
  11. ^ "Reginald R. Robinson | Album Discography | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved September 30, 2017.