Jimmy Lee Robinson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Jimmy Lee Robinson 

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Bassist and guitarist Jimmy Lee Robinson is one of those artists who never made the big time but solidified a legendary reputation in live performance and recording sessions for small local labels. Robinson got his start in Chicago in the late 40s, scuffling on Maxwell Street. Early associations with the likes of Eddie Taylor and Freddie King allowed him entry into the rough-and-tumble Chicago blues circuit and he eventually became associated with Vee Jay Records, contributing his solid bass to some of that label's most important sessions, including some by Jimmy Reed. He also played at various times in the bands of Elmore James and Little Walter. His own best-known records were done for the short-lived Bandera label in Chicago in 1962. He's a superb guitarist with a sharp, lithe attack and a uniquely tender, crying voice (that's his supple moan that John Mayall imitated note for note on his famous cover of Robinson's "All of My Life" in the 60s), as well as a profound feel for the cadences of classic postwar Chicago blues. Robinson's reemergence could be one of the most important we've seen in many years. Thursday, Lilly's, 2513 N. Lincoln; 525-2422.

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