An accomplished saxophonist and Andover native chose Graves Hall at Phillips Academy for his quartet's upcoming CD-release party for a very simple reason.
"Phillips was where I got serious about music," said Pete Robbins, Phillips Academy class of 1997. "I played, I listened to music...being around other kids who were serious about music really helped me. We pushed each other."
Now 33 and the dean at Brooklyn Conservatory in New York, Robbins comes home next Friday, Jan. 20 to offer a free jazz concert that starts at 7:30 p.m.
He'll have his new CD on hand, which will not be officially released to the general public until Feb. 14. The CD features the Transatlantic Quartet, a trio of European musicians and Robbins on saxophone.
At the Andover show, Robbins will team with three New York musicians and play music from the Transatlantic Quartet CD.
"This is the best band of young jazz musicians in New York," he said of the Pete Robbins Quartet.
Listeners will hear contemporary and some traditional jazz music.
"It's not so brainy. It conveys genuine emotion," Robbins said of the music for his Andover concert.
He may be returning to his musically inspiring Phillips Academy roots for the concert, but Andover's public school music scene also inspired this one-time fourth-grade clarinetist in the West Elementary School band.
"I absolutely was inspired by school bands and music teachers," he said. "I remember (the late) Mr. (Allan) Minkkinen letting me play whatever I wanted. He gave me some scales, played piano in the background and I loved it. I was in the middle school jazz band."
He was in teen rock bands and still performs songs by the rock band Guns & Roses, only with a jazzier twist.
After graduating from a dual degree program between Tufts University and New England Conservatory, Robbins moved to New York in 2002.
He has performed at festivals and clubs in nine different countries, and two studio releases were both named as top-10 jazz releases, in 2006 and 2008. A New York Times reviewer wrote, Robbins leads "an ambitious ensemble that combines spacious avant-gardism with the melodic punch of rock."
Robbins has his own Hate Laugh Music label and has been featured in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, JazzTimes, JazzWise, Jazzman and on National Public Radio. The adjectives cool, confident. thoughtfully off kilter and complex have been written to describe him.
He said he's thrilled to be bringing his sound home.
'Genuine emotion' JAZZ
Pete Robbins Quartet
Group features Andover native Pete Robbins, alto saxophone, compositions; Carlos Homs, piano; Aryeh Kobrinsky, bass; Tyshawn Sorey, drums
Friday, Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Timken Room, Graves Hall, Phillips Academy