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Doug Robinson Brings His Piano Trio to the San Miguel Stage

By Fredric Dannen

For more than a century, jazz and classical music have drawn upon one another for inspiration. By the late 1930s, thanks to Nat “King” Cole, the notion of a small jazz ensemble, the jazz equivalent of chamber music, began to take hold. To a lover of classical music, the term “piano trio” means piano, violin, and cello; to a jazz fan, it means piano, bass, and drums. Ever since Cole popularized the format, the piano trio has played a role in every new stylistic movement in jazz, thanks to legendary trios led by Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, and later on by Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, and the Bad Plus.

“TRI-Ó-LO-GY: Music for Three”
By Doug Robinson, piano; Victor Monterrubio, drums; Rubén Olvera, bass
Tue, Dec 13, 7pm
Miguel Malo Auditorium, Bellas Artes
Hernández Macías 75, Centro
250 pesos advance/300 pesos at the door

San Miguel music luminary Doug Robinson has dazzled audiences with his solo excursions on piano and in his duets with late jazz guitarist Ken Basman. He has also led large musical forces, as in his sold-out concert last month, “Plays Well with Others,” which featured nineteen musicians. It was only a matter of time before Robinson put together a jazz piano trio, but he needed a rhythm section that met his high standards. Robinson found his ideal collaborators in two master musicians—Victor Monterrubio on drums and percussion, and Rubén Olvera on bass. When the Doug Robinson Trio premiered recently at the Zinco Jazz Club in Mexico City, the club ran out of chairs, and spectators were pressed up against the walls.

The trio is giving its first San Miguel concert on Tuesday, December 13, at 7pm, at the Bellas Artes, in this year’s final installment of the so-called “Steinway Series,” concerts that benefit Libros para Todos, an outreach program to promote reading with a focus on children and young adults. (Visit or, for more information.) All Steinway Series concerts employ the recently restored nine-foot Steinway concert grand piano in Miguel Malo Theater at the Bellas Artes. Advance tickets are 250 pesos (300 pesos at the door on concert night) and are on sale at Solutions (Recreo 11), La Conexión (Aldama 3), and Arthur Murray Dance Center (Salida a Celaya 59). Tickets can also be purchased online at

The concert is entitled “TRI-Ó-LO-GY: Music for Three.” “In a good trio like this one,” Robinson says, “we are constantly trading off of who has the lead voice. I can hear what the guys are playing, so I can respond quickly and creatively. We’ll be performing a lot of new original material that was perhaps too soft and thoughtful for our last concert [“Plays Well with Others”]. It’s almost a cliché now, but I think what you’ll hear this time is not just the notes but also the space between the notes.”

Robinson adds, “Expect to hear ballads, some Ramsey Lewis-type funk, and, of course, some swing. I wouldn’t be surprised if we threw in a hip reinvention of some seasonal songs as well. I want this to be the perfect musical sendoff to 2016, beautiful, thoughtful, and hopeful.”


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