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DAVID ROBAIRE has always been one of those guys whom people trust and rely on. His unique skill set of intelligence, empathy and wit allows him to befriend and earn the respect of everyone whom he meets, from fellow musicians to students, from businessmen to customers and celebrities. The undeniable aptitude Robaire has as a jazz bassist has transferred well in his expanding role in the music world, serving since 2017 as the Manager of Music for Sam First, the newest jazz-only performance establishment in the Southland. As the booker of one of Los Angeles’ rare true jazz nightspots, Robaire has become somewhat of a gatekeeper of the latest happenings setting his sights on bringing untapped potential to fruition. Robaire is now steering Sam First’s newest project, a record label formed by the club’s owner, Paul Solomon. A slate of new records are in the works, and with Robaire at the helm, the creative futures of jazz and improvised music look bright.


A native of Southern California, David Robaire showed immense promise as a young jazz bassist, leaving Los Angeles after high school to attend the vaunted jazz program at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York, where he would meet and play with now-household names in the jazz world: Gilad Hekselman, Marcus Gilmore, Mike Moreno, Dayna Stephens, Will Vinson, Jacky Terrasson, Edward Simon, and Yotam Silberstein to name a few. After a successful undergraduate college experience, Robaire returned to Los Angeles, where he quickly became a known quantity in the local jazz scene, playing with West Coast artists like Larry Goldings, Billy Childs, Ben Wendel, and Josh Nelson. He currently plays and tours with singer Jane Monheit, as part of her West Coast quintet. Robaire continued his education in California, first at the innovative California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and then at UCLA as part of the elite Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz (now renamed the Herbie Hancock Institute). It was through the Monk Institute that Robaire got a chance to play on a daily basis with some of the best young jazz players in the world, a group that comprised alto saxophonist and keyboardist Josh Johnson, trumpeter Mike Cottone, trombonist Eric Miller, vibraphonist Diego Urbano, pianist Miro Sprague, and drummer Jonathan Pinson.

David Robaire has proven time and again the many hats he wears all somehow fit just the way they should. Perfectly.

Through Robaire’s stewardship, these players went on to form their own professional working band, Holophonor, releasing two wonderful CDs to date, with a third release on the way.

It did not take long for Robaire to end up on the other side of the educational divide, moving easily from student to teacher when he was asked to join the faculty in the jazz program at California State University Northridge (CSUN), the hidden crown jewel of jazz education on the West Coast. The position has given Robaire an opportunity to enlighten future jazz musicians, through his tutelage on bass and in jazz history and musicianship classes, while flexing his talent for presenting individuals from his vast network of artists from both sides of the continent, bringing them to campus for lectures and workshops as part of the school’s robust guest artist program.

Whether it’s playing for the Grammy Awards ceremony with jazz piano prodigy Joey Alexander, or bringing as a guest lecturer to campus Grammy Album of the Year Award winning producer Larry Klein, or convincing NEA Master and Kennedy Center Honor recipient Wayne Shorter to produce his band’s album, David Robaire has proven time and again the many hats he wears all somehow fit just the way they should. Perfectly.

- Biography written by Gary Fukushima

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