Henry Berthold ‘Spike’ Robinson (16 January 1930 – 29 October 2001) was an American tenor saxophonist.
Robinson played in the cool-toned style popularized by Stan Getz, Zoot Sims and Al Cohn. He made some recordings in the 1950s, but gave up to follow an engineering career for nearly 30 years, not returning to music until 1981 when he was over 50.
He started playing alto sax when he was 12 and joined the US Navy in 1948 as a musician. By 1950, he was based in the UK where he was soon regularly jamming in London with leading UK beboppers such as Tommy Pollard, Johnny Dankworth and Victor Feldman.
He made a few records for Carlo Krahmer’s Esquire label but eventually was transferred home and demobilized. Unhappy with the music scene in the Chicago area, he took advantage of the GI Bill to study electronic engineering at university and followed that career for nearly 30 years.
In 1981, he returned to playing music, this time on tenor sax, and recorded many excellent sets for Discovery, Capri, Concord, and particularly Hep.
In 1984, he began a series of tours in the UK that were so successful that he took early retirement from engineering to turn to a full-time career in music, appearing with established British jazz musicians such as fellow tenor Dick Morrissey, pianist Bill Le Sage, bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Bill Eyden.
For the rest of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, Robinson played at clubs and festivals throughout the UK, Europe and in various parts of the USA, and continued to make records to high critical and public praise.
This footage shows Spike playing ‘Just As You Were There’ at Cork Jazz Festival in 1991.