Robert Linden

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About Robert Linden

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"Renaissance" Robert has had a many-faceted career with successful forays into Songwriting, Performance, Theatrical Producing, P.R., Teaching, Vocal Coaching, Music Administration and Music Supervision. He currently fronts the Jazz Fusion Band, ZEN BOOGIE, writing their original songs and playing keyboard. Here's a look-back into his musical side...

His earliest memories of music were“ listening over and over to his older brother Jeff’s old 45’s of Frank Sinatra, Patti Page, Sammy Davis Jr, The Rays, and so many others. After school, he often stayed with my aunt Frances and uncle Phil, whose Al Jolson LP’s young Robert played endlessly (his aunt Frances was like a second mother to him growing up while his mom worked at the family’s restaurant business.)

His dad bought one of those chord organ back in the 1960's (this was before synthesizers, remember) and would play and sing songs like “Lady of Spain” and “Mona Lisa”. Of course there was his middle brother Donald who could make his young brother laugh endlessly by taking records and scratching and skipping across them (pretty ahead of his time, considering today that would probably qualify him as a hip-hop D.J.) At 8 Donald was studying piano --but what must have been exasperating for him was to see his 3-year-old little brother Robert jump up on the piano bench and play his lessons without ever having studied. Within a year, Donald gave up the piano, Robert took over and the rest is sibling rivalry. Donald was also as responsible as anyone for unwittingly turning his brother on to 60’s rock like Buffalo Springfield, Cream and Janis Joplin (he had already discovered the Beatles through his teenage cousin Judy and her friends and became hooked right from “Meet The Beatles”. )

Robert has been singing in school choirs from his elementary years through college and although his mom claimed to be “tone-deaf” she allowed her 5-year-old son to try to teach her to sing and tell one note from another. All-in-all, Robert had a very unusually musical “non-musical upbringing”.

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Those school choirs and choruses let to songwriting and bands in his teens. Although he studied theatre and classical music at USC, gaining a degree in Music Education, he immediately upon graduation fell into a life of songwriting and performing with some theatre producing thrown in betwixt and between. (He actually earned a living running two theatres in L.A. over a 6-year stretch in the late 80's through the early 90's, during which time he produced over 20 shows.) The death of his mother in 1995 brought most everything in his life to a crashing halt and when he finally re-emerged a year later, it was again music which proved to be his salvation. His unique and raw boogie blues piano style had already begun to draw attention and his songwriting began to become more refined. His musical influences began to come together to create a unique style and with a flavor that hints of styles from Classic Rock and Swing to Cabaret and even Musical Comedy.

“In truth, I’m probably all of that and none of that" Robert claims. "All those people and styles are definitely a part of who I am, but what it’s added up to in my music and style gets very hard to really pin down and describe- except to say that I like to have fun with my music and hope I tell stories that resonate for others. One of my dearest friends is the talented writer (now travel journalist) Judie Fein who was instrumental in my coming to embrace the importance of brevity and proper use of language in my songs. I've always lived for the proverbial 'catchy tune', which I know is sort of 'tin pan alley-ish', but is really true for me. It's just as valid in Jazz, Rock, Pop or Country music today as it was back in the 1930's as popular music began to really evolve. I rarely try to be 'cutting edge' or write with a particular market or group in mind, which is probably why I see some of my songs being sung in different styles like Pop, R&B and Country simultaneously which quite a hoot and very flattering!”

“It’s also hard for me to nail down my influences since they’re so eclectic and varied. Different music, different composers affected me at different times and certainly affected my music as well. For example, I can recall being completely absorbed in the music and lyrics of songwriters and song-stylists like Carole King, James Taylor, Elton John, Dr. John, Cat Stevens, Jim Croce and Dan Fogelberg and composers like Mozart, Offenbach, Debussy, Ravel and Beethoven... but I can’t often tell you exactly where you’ll find their traces in my music... but they're there!”

Robert has been called a "throwback to an earlier period of music" - with musical sensibilities that sometimes recall popular music from the 30's and 40's, the more swingy 50's and bluesy 60's and pop 70's and 80's, but with his own raw and unique boogie-blues flair and a far more contemporary lyrical flavor that is fired by his sardonic and sometimes edgy sense of the world around him... yet he can also set a romantic tone which seems to emanate from that same deep sensibility that is uniquely his.

"I'm just another story teller " says he.

Robert Linden joined the JazzTimes community on Jun 24, 2011