Passage - Nambo Robinson

2017 Entertainment Highlights

Monday, December 18, 2017

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The Jamaica Observer continues its daily look back at people, events and works that made an impact during the year.

WITH all its negatives, contemporary Jamaican music desperately needs mentors. One of them, the ebullient Ronald “Nambo” Robinson, died on January 25 at age 67.

The burly trombonist recorded and toured with reggae's elite artistes for over 45 years, playing on a number of outstanding songs and albums. On January 30, there was a big turnout at Masjid Al Salaam mosque in St Andrew for his thanksgiving service.

Leading the congregation was saxophonist Dean Fraser, who knew Robinson for 48 years. They played together in several bands including 809 and Lloyd Parks and We The People.

“Nothing that I achieve was done without Nambo,” said Fraser.

A heartfelt tribute came from Phillip McFarlane, keyboardist of the EarthKry band. Addressing the gathering, he recalled that Robinson was never short of advice for aspiring musicians.

“For a youth who lose him father at age four, Nambo was the closest thing to a father to me,” said McFarlane. “Some of the things I learned from Nambo, I didn't learn at Edna (Manley College).”

Robinson was raised in east Kingston, once the haunt of legendary musicians like master drummer Count Ossie, trombonists Don Drummond and Rico Rodriquez and The Skatalites.

He started his career with the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari and Light Of Saba, which were led by Count Ossie and saxophonist Cedric Brooks, respectively.

By the late 1970s, Robinson's skill gained the attention of major acts like Bob Marley and Dennis Brown. He played on Marley's 1979 album, Survivor, as well as hit songs by Brown (Love Has Found Its Way), Culture (International Herb), Everton Blender (Lift Up Your Head) and Lauryn Hill's massive That Thing.

Booking agent and road manager Copeland Forbes, who went on many tours with Robinson, was also at his thanksgiving service. He best summed up his legacy.

“The most important thing he was a great humanitarian; Nambo never thought about the money. The emphasis was always on culture and music,” said Forbes.

— Howard Campbell




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