Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

The Gig: Of Horns & Hard Drives

Perhaps you’ve heard of the android trumpeter.

Developed by Toyota, it was unveiled in 2004 as part of a suite of so-called Partner Robots designed to “embody kindness and intelligence and to assist with human activities,” in the parlance of a company press release. The scattered evidence found online is impressive, even scary. In one video clip, the robot plays a credible Dixieland version of “Bippity Boppity Boo,” complete with Wynton-esque trills. Another clip features a segue from “When You Wish Upon a Star” to the original Mickey Mouse Club theme, with what sounds like flawless intonation. The tone of the comments on these pages runs from dumbstruck awe to withering skepticism. One commenter summed up the ambivalence with a phrase both suggestive and succinct: “That robot blows.”

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published
Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).