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JAZZ IDIOM authors Charles L. Robinson and Al Young are the subjects and focus of a three-day interview by Smithsonian scholar-musicians Anthony Brown and Kennith Kimery

charlie-al-28-feb-20091 Photo: Ken Kimery

Photographer Charles L. Robinson and poet Al Young tell the stories of their lives in jazz to musician-scholars Anthony Brown, Ph.D and Ken  Kimery, executive producer at the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra.


Al Young, Charles L. Robinson, Kennith Kimery, and Dr. Anthony Brown have packed away the microphones and digital videocam to sit for an old-fashioned snapshot following three intensive days of interviews in Berkeley, California. | Photo: Sarah Robinson


“We are honored,” Ken Kimery wrote, “that you have granted us the opportunity to include your life’s story as part of the national record at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC. Since 1990, the museum’s jazz oral history program has collected over 150 interviews, including the likes of Nat Hentoff, Dave Brubeck, Benny Golson, and soon  … Al Young and Charles L. Robinson. Your interview [will] reside in the museum’s archive center, be included in the oral history program collection and made available for scholarly research and general public inquiry. Both my colleague Dr. Anthony Brown (educator, composer and musician) and I will travel to the Bay Area on February 26-28, 2009 to conduct your interview.”


Anthony Brown’s Asian American Orchestra

Asian American Orchestra at Fifth Stream Music

Kennith Kimery at the Smithonian

Meet the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra

Smithsonian Jazz

The Smithsonian Jazz Oral History Program


“Thelonious Monk gazes sidelong under the brim of a white felt hat. Dizzy Gillespie blows his trumpet, cheeks fully inflated. Nina Simone looks silvered in the stagelights. In Jazz Idiom: Blueprints, Stills and Frames, new from Berkeley’s Heyday Books, photographer Charles L. Robinson’s candid photos of the greats make you feel as if you’re listening, not looking. Poems by Robinson’s pal (and California Poet Laureate) Al Young keep the beat.”
— Anneli Rufus, East Bay Express


JAZZ IDIOM: Blueprints, Stills and Frames | The Jazz Photography of Charles L. Robinson with Poetic Takes and Riffs by Al Young (Heyday Books)



  1. Anthony Brown Says:

    Hey Al,
    Thanks for the instantaneous posting of the SJOHP interview!

  2. Ken Kimery Says:

    Dear Al,

    Thank you again for sharing your life story and I hope that our path crosses again soon.

    Always best,

    Ken Kimery

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