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You may not be familiar with Dana Robbins’ name, but odds are you’re already well-acquainted with her unique, bright yet smoky saxophone sound. The Nashville-by-way-of-Ann-Arbor (with a ten-year stop in Los Angeles) Robbins has been a featured player for superstars including Barry Manilow, Roger Daltrey, Frank Zappa, TajMo (Taj Mahal and Keb Mo), Aretha Franklin and can currently be heard in Grammy-winning blues legend Delbert McClinton’s band.

With the release of her new, self-titled, album, listeners will finally be able to put a name, a face and a voice to her sound. Just click on the album’s first track, the sly, tart “Say It Again,” and you’ll understand why Music City insiders consider her an instrumental MVP, a first-call when you’re looking for a sax player.

Having started on piano at age 4 and saxophone in 5th grade, studying with great teachers throughout middle and high school and attending Berklee College of Music, Dana has an extensive music background and some serious chops.

Dana has 3 albums out – you can purchase them on her site at 

Dana is a Yamaha-endorsed artist.

In this episode, we talked about:

  • how she landed the Delbert McClinton gig, and has been performing with him for many years
  • the funny story behind her audition for Barry Manilow, and how she got that gig
  • what it was like working with Aretha Franklin
  • how she has been surviving during the pandemic and a great resource for performers who want extra income creating recordings
  • the simple, yet effective equipment she used for sending recordings to producers (and even Keb Mo!)
  • Dana’s secret to her warm and smoky tone
  • her mentors and inspirations
  • the under $100 tool she can’t live without
  • and so much more!


Say yes and figure it out

Dana’s Links:
Dana’s Equipment:
Yamaha Soprano 62  Beechler 4S mouthpiece
Yamaha Alto Sax 82Z (custom neck)  – Ted Klum Mouthpiece A45
Yamaha Tenor Sax 875 ( custom neck)
      Vandoren V16 T95 mouthpiece (customized) and Otto Link Super Tone Master – 7
King Super 20 Tenor Sax
Yamaha Bari  52 with a custom neck
Brilhart 7* mouthpiece
Selmer Mark VI soprano
Gemeinhardt flute
SKB cases for ALL except Reunion Blues case for my Bari.
In ears: Shure P9HW
Favorite is : Patterns for Improvisation by Oliver Nelson
Altissimo Register by Rosemary Lang
Charlie Parker Omnibook
Real Book
Breathing strap LITHE is my favorite from Meridian Winds, Okemos MI
I have the “Saxholder” as a back up.
Dana’s CD’s:
So Good- Smooth Jazz 2010
Dana Robbins- Blues featuring Delbert McClinton and Jimmy Hall produced by Tom Hambridge 2014
11- Americana 2016
Resource: – matching producers with musicians
Watch the video on YouTube: