Jazz pianist (& vocalist), Robin Connell, the Artprize 2016 jazz music award recipient, was also the West Michigan Jazz Society’s pick for 2017 Musician of the Year. She performs regularly as bandleader or side-woman including pops concerts with the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, concerts and club gigs with bandleaders Randy Marsh, Kevin Jones, Jim Cooper, and others.
Originally from Detroit, Robin honed her craft in New York City, at places such as The Waldorf-Astoria, bringing the sophistication of The Great American Songbook to life in her own charming and inimitable way. She and husband, Paul Brewer (trombone/vocal) frequently appear as duo, or with their quartet, performing their original arrangements of time honored jazz standards.
The Robin Connell Trio is led by Robin on piano/vocal, and currently includes Rob Hartman on bass, and drummer, Keith Hall. Beginning January, 2020, they are the ‘House Trio’ at Grand Rapids new music venue, The Listening Room, where they will be backing regional guest jazz musicians. The monthly series begins Jan 4, with Max Colley III, trumpet. Robin Connell Trio at The Listening Room
Jazz in the Sanctuary at Fountain Street Church which Robin has hosted since the concert series began in 2014, is another current endeavor.
Enthusiastic about jazz education, Robin’s teaching credits include twenty summers as jazz faculty at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. She currently teaches jazz studies at Aquinas College, and co-directs the St Cecilia Youth Jazz Ensembles, In January 2020 Robin will be a featured presenter at the Jazz Education Network in New Orleans. Her resume includes a long list of stints as guest artist/clinician/adjudicator and, in 2020, she will be leading a quintet in a series of concerts at K-12 schools, fully funded with a grant from the Music Performance Trust Fund. She, and Paul, often enjoy including a student or two in their performances as they ‘pass the torch’ to the younger ones (Connell-Brewer Band at Buttermilk Jambouree).
With a Doctorate of Arts in Music Composition, and composer of many instrumental works, Robin is the winner of multiple arts grants at the national and state levels. Her several commissions include Derailed, a work for the 1998 Massachusetts All-State jazz band, for which she was also the conductor. The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra regularly performs her pieces, with Hip Hop Gidget, included on their recording, Jazz on Tap.