The late great jazz trumpeter Miles Davis said Sonya’s playing is reminiscent of Stuff Smith and Ray Nance, two of jazz’s legendary violinist’s. Robinson is a gutsy player with a beautiful sound and a fluidity that displays her technical finesse.
Fans of Sonya have literally jumped out of their seats upon hearing the excitement that Sonya generates with her violin playing. They feel the raw emotion within her music.
Sonya, who has three albums to her name, Fly, Sonya and Sonya Live at Spiral, plays a variety of styles from the baroque, the blues, straight ahead and beyond.
A fluent composer, she writes and performs most of her own music. “Fly” features many old and new compositions. A for Black is a song that features her trio-violin, drum and bass. It is a rollicking piece that moves with grace and speed and features the violin in its favorite key, a minor. Truth and Honesty is a ballad that displays a level of soulfulness that only her violin and her ideas can project. Eleven is a piece written the day after 911. In some ways a tribute to the survivors and in other ways a musical documentation of what many of us saw and went through on that epic day.
Sonya has been a featured guest performer for the UNCF annual fundraiser, Jazz at Riverside and has performed in festivals such as Summerfest, Jazz Fest Berlin and the Jacksonville Jazz Festival. From venues as varied as the Blue Note, NY to Spiral in Tokyo, Japan to Chicago’s Southshore Festival, Sonya always gives a soul stirring-performance guaranteed to make you stand up and say “Where has she been?” She has performed with some of music’s best, such as the late great Aaron Bell-jazz bassist with Duke Ellington, Melvin Rhyne, organist with Wes Montgomery, Bassist Richard Davis, Wynton Marsalis, Aretha Franklin and Liberace.
Sonya has won many honors and nominations. She was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for Best New Album, Voted one of America’s Ten Most Beautiful Black Women, and Crowned Miss Black America.
About Whistle-the latest release on Fly Records:
“Whistle” is one of those Jazz String albums that has taken years to make-from its inception to its release into the world. Not unlike a fine wine, or better yet a child, each original composition of Sonya's has been given a life and a breath. “Whistle” is a Tribute album dedicated to the memory of Sonya's Mother.
It leads off with "Mother's Song"- a heartfelt remembrance, but more importantly the song that her Mother wanted her daughter to write. It has a distinctly Brazilian feel and features Sonya on Viola and a stirring guitar solo by Vinny Valentino. "Circle" is named for the fact that the melody comes back around-as in a circle and has an infectious, danceable Salsa feel. It features the fine flute playing of Jay Rodriguez. "Whistle" showcases Sonya's whistling ability-(just like her Mother's), her love for Samba, a fantastic piano solo by Grammy Nominated pianist Manuel Valera and a show-stopping drum break featuring Kahlil Kwame Bell on Percussion and Francis Benitez on Drums. "I Want to Know" is a Ballad written in the parking lot of her favorite health food store. Inspiration can come at any time and this song was one of those that probably wouldn't have made the album except that John Benitez, Grammy Nominated and Electric Bass Task Master, insisted that the Band record at least 7-8 tunes that day. Sonya went home after the 1st day of rehearsals and wrote it out for the band. It features a beautiful keyboard solo in the introduction and throughout the song by a seriously talented pianist-Axel Tosca. “Beauty” is a song written by Eric Person and features him playing soprano saxophone along with Sonya, who throws a bit of a curve ball in it by giving us some spoken-word also known as poetry. It’s a bit reminiscent of her first album “Sonya” and she’s been known to sound a bit like Jill Scott. “Hip Hop Scotch (aka Sneaky)” is one of those funky pieces that has a bit of a metamorphosis from funk to some straight up raucous New Orleans groove. And Sonya only called it sneaky “‘cause of the way the rhythm sections starts the song”.
The end is an amalgamation of rhythm and solos by everyone. “The World is a Ghetto” is the soul and funk classic by the group War. Sonya puts a sensuous string twist on the melody and is joined by Monte Croft on keyboards, Paul Ramsey on bass and Kahlil Kwame Bell on drums. “Julio” has an interesting story in that she was inspired to write a song for Mr. Julio Igleslias after meeting him at one of those iconic concerts he would appear at in NYC in the late 80’s. He had a style and a way of approaching a woman that was endearing. This is another song that features Sonya on viola. For a woman from Wisconsin with no known relatives from the Caribbean, or South America that she knows of, Sonya has a remarkable way of writing and performing in that genre. “Birfdey” is the other song that got called up for duty by John Benitez. For some reason, much of Sonya’s inspiration comes while driving in her car doing errands. The entire band is on fire for this short but sweet little ditty. “ A Minor Funk” is a song written years before…in the early 90’s. Chuck Brown would have been a bit proud.
The final composition , “Cari-bean” is another little short “ditty” made into a little longer “ditty”. Originally intended to be just violin and percussion, John Benitez added some serious bass licks to complete the song. And its Sonya’s first ever recorded Triangle!
Sonya Robinson Music’s tracks