SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Corey Robinson was all excited to go clubbing — to a bossa nova club that is.
When the Notre Dame sophomore receiver was on a mission trip this summer in Brazil, he wanted to take in some jazz music. But when he asked for directions to some of the local hot spots, he got some funny looks.
"Everyone started laughing at me," Robinson said. "They said there hasn't been a bossa nova club since 1970. It was news to me. I didn't get to listen to any live jazz. … They had live samba in the streets, but no jazz. It was unfortunate."
Robinson is one of the Irish's music men — he plays guitar, ukulele, bass, drums and piano, to name a few — and is familiar with different genres. Through music, he has developed a bond with his fellow instrumentalists on the team, tight end Ben Koyack and quarterback Everett Golson.
That could be important on the field for Notre Dame, considering the playing status of fellow receiver DaVaris Daniels is in doubt as the school investigates alleged academic fraud involving Daniels and three other players.
Entering Saturday's opener against Rice, Robinson might not be playing second fiddle in the Irish receiving corps much longer.
Away from the field, it's music — jazz in particular — that helps Robinson dial down from the intensity of football and experience a different kind of euphoria.
"In jazz there's so much room for improvisation, but it's within a structure," Robinson said. "It's not just people going off renegade. There's order, but it's a very loose kind of structure. You're following the rules, but there's freedom to express yourself and be unique in your own way."
Robinson said he listens to Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong along with Brazilian jazz. To him, the music is smooth, freeing and spontaneous and can awaken dormant emotions in the soul.
Perhaps that attitude was what inspired Robinson to dye his hair blond — he now looks more like the singer Chris Brown than Irish receiver Chris Brown does.
"I'm like, why not?" Robinson said. "When's the last time I'll be able to do this and not lose a job?
He doesn't make any profound parallel between football and jazz. He enjoys both for different reasons.
"Football is really structured," Robinson said. "Everyone has their assignments, and you have to do that. … I don't think they correlate that well.
"Jazz is more like basketball or soccer, where it's fluid. Football, you have to have everyone be working cogs. Everyone has to be working for the whole thing to work, the scheme."
But music does help Robinson connect with Koyack and Golson, and that bond, he said, can translate to the field. Robinson helped teach Koyack to play the ukulele, and the three have frequent jam sessions involving different kinds of music. One recent one involved island music.
"It's a subconscious kind of thing, especially when you go with the changes (in music)," Robinson said. "You have to understand what they're doing and you have to maneuver in between that. It's like football when there's an audible. It's a really beautiful thing. It definitely helps with the chemistry and being able to trust guys."
So if Robinson and the Irish can flummox opposing defenses this season as coach Brian Kelly hopes they can, the defenses will at least have a fallback excuse: They can blame it on the bossa nova.