The Story behind ‘Sam’s Sound’ – Robin explains the inspiration for the second single from the new album, shares his favourite lyrics, and announces the musicians on the track.

‘Ode To NOLA’ – OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO. A musical romp through a day spent in the Crescent City, New Orleans.

The Story behind ‘Ode To NOLA’
Robin explains the inspiration for the first track on the album, shares his favourite lyrics, and announces the musicians on the track.

Robin explains the story behind the new album and what you can expect from the songs on it.


Six months after the 2019 journey-of-a-lifetime on a Harley Davidson, having made the pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans, Robin was back in New Orleans, about to complete the filming for his (now award-winning) ‘Back To The Source’ documentary, and show the first edit at the 2020 Clarksdale Film Festival, in Mississippi. 

‘Laying in bed, listening to the St Charles Streetcar..’ in a New Orleans hotel room, Robin couldn’t sleep. After the initial frustration he suddenly realized: ‘if that’s not a great opening line for a song, I don’t know what is…’.

After six months processing his epic road-trip, he was seeing everything clearly for the first time, not just about the music genres he’s dedicated his life too, but thoughts about his own homeland, his family, books he’d recently read, and the politics of the world. So, he began to write it all down, right there in that hotel room, in a stream of consciousness, starting with the line above. He didn’t stop for the rest of the trip, staying up all night on the flight back to finish getting those precious thoughts down on paper, before life kicked in again.

Two months later, Covid hit the world and everything locked down. During the struggle for his career and financial survival, he decided to make Sunday his composing day. 

He hadn’t penned originals for over 20 years due to the pace of life, building a self-employed career, having a family, and the requirements of the other music he is involved in. Suddenly there was no work, but there was time.

Approaching one song at a time, taking a concept or thought process from the red notepad he had used in the US to record his thoughts, he started composing. Unlike previous attempts, Robin tried not to compose at the piano but to let his mind create melodies and grooves freely, without being guided by his own musical instincts at the keyboard. Then,  taking these ideas to the piano to flesh them out and make their harmony more concrete.

Songs on ‘Return From The Source’ are inspired by many different topics: New Orleans, Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, Sam Phillips, his family, Clarksdale, the book South Of Haunted Dreams by Eddie L. Harris, meditation and the various forms it can take, the global jazz scene, his thoughts on metaphysics, and finally, England.

His original plan was to form the group ‘rep4’, featuring his existing musical partners Jihad Darwish (upright bass) and Alex Best (drums), adding electric guitarist Neil Cowlan, and approach the project as ‘a band’. But different ideas and opportunities kept arising. Adding long-term colleague, cellist and vocalist Natalie Rozario, on some songs made it rep4+.

Then, some of the songs started getting outings at Robin’s ‘Pinstripe Suit’ speakeasy swing band’s gigs in London, and taking a slightly different form.

Some songs felt like they’d benefit from a string quartet, another a gospel choir. Robin’s lockdown radio show ‘The Jazz Show With Robin Phillips’ introduced him to Cuban bassist and The Eddy (Netflix) star Damian Nueva, and famed NYC drummer Billy Kilson. It seemed unthinkable not to use the return to New Orleans to record with some musician contacts from his original trip, so a session at Maringy Studios in New Orleans in 2022 added legendary trumpeter Leroy Jones (Harry Connick jr), tenor saxophonist James Martin, and baritone sax man Dan Ostreicher (Trombone Shorty) to two tracks. The string quartet was put together by Natalie, and Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir in London, added the required voices.

Many of the sessions took place at Robin’s recording studio near Cambridge, England, others at Master Chord in London, utilising its incredible Steinway concert grand piano.

The resulting 10 track album took over 25 years to conceive, a six-day motorbike trip to ignite, and a lockdown to compose, we hope you enjoy it and take something from the stories behind, and revealed in, the songs.

The album was mixed by Sound On Sound magazine Editor, Sam Inglis, and mastered by Tim Debden at Fluid Mastering.


Robin is many things, to some this means multi-talented, to others, a jack of all trades.

He is a singer, pianist, bandleader, presenter, producer, and educator. After quitting a post-graduate job in PR in 2006, he started to build a full-time career in music, one gig at a time, moving to London before relocating to Cambridge, and always trying to improve at his art.

He is the arranger and bandleader of Pinstripe Suit, a speakeasy swing band that has held a residency at the Nightjar speakeasies in London for over a decade.

Following his presenting debut in ‘Back To The Source’, he produced and presented over 100 hours of jazz radio for ‘The Jazz Show With Robin Phillips’ for Delux Radio during lockdown.

He teaches and mentors children, adults, and groups in voice, piano, jazz harmony, music tech, and band-craft, as well as produces artists in his own recording studio.

He is a session musician and composer, including working extensively with global jazz-house phenomenon Berlioz.

Contact & Bookings

International performance representation (excluding UK):
Peter Conway
Peter Conway Management
+ 44 (0)20 8378 1012

For UK bookings and other enquiries please fill in the form below: