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Michael Fitzgerald

Randy Sandke

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Amazingly, trumpeter Randy Sandke has just issued *three* new albums on the Evening Star label (established by Benny Carter and Ed Berger).

The first I listened to was "Outside In", which points to the ability that Sandke has for making music that is very much aware of the early jazz tradition (Bix, Jelly Roll, Duke, etc.) but also stretching the boundaries of jazz. I mean, one of the tunes is "Ornette Chop Suey" - you get the point?

The band is remarkable: Wycliffe Gordon AND Ray Anderson on trombones; Marty Ehrlich, Scott Robinson, AND Ken Peplowski on woowinds; Uri Caine on piano; Greg Cohen on bass; and Dennis Mackrel on drums. Howard Alden plays guitar on one track.

Some of the same guys are on the other CDs (The Mystic Trumpeter - Sandke, Robinson, Gordon, Ted Rosenthal, Cohen, Mackrel; and Trumpet After Dark - Sandke, Bill Charlap, Cohen, Mackrel with a viol consort, yes you read that right.)

I'll have to listen more to the other records, but the first is really outstanding. There are pieces by Jelly Roll Morton and Ellington & Strayhorn, but majority are originals by Sandke (with one each by Anderson and Ehrlich). There are some wonderful sounds - occasionally reminiscent of Mingus at times, but then not.

CDs are available from Cadence or from CD Baby and probably elsewhere too.

For years I tended to lump Sandke in with the Concord Records white swing guys and that was my error based on the records I was exposed to and the gigs he was doing around NYC - playing with Buck Clayton, etc. When it came out in 1994, I really took notice of "The Chase", which had Mike Brecker and Ray Anderson - little did I know that those guys had a lot of history together. Mike Brecker and Sandke (and Ed Berger) attended Indiana University in the late 1960s. And here's a little blurb about Anderson from the Outside In notes by Sandke:

"Ray and I go back a long way and went to high school together in Chicago. The school stage band had a rather remarkable trombone section: in addition to Ray we had George Lewis, who recently won a MacArthur grant for his significant contributions to creative music making. The third trombonist was a young African-American named Roscoe Giles who scored perfect 800s on his SATs and went on to become a leading architecht of chaos theory. As Ray notes, Roscoe was so smart he quit playing the trombone altogether."

BTW, if you wanted to know more, try here: http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/computer-s...les_roscoe.html

Anything with Scott Robinson is bound to be interesting and he delivers the goods, playing contrabass saxophone as the voice of God during Genesis 1 and Revelations 8-11. Elsewhere Robinson plays alto, baritone, clarinet, theremin, and waterphone - http://www.richardawaters.com/waterphone/ - an instrument which I was stunned to learn has appeared on about 30 jazz sessions.

Everyone gets some space and there's a great opportunity to hear Ken Peplowski and Marty Ehrlich duel on clarinets. What is wonderful is that all these juxtapositions WORK. It would be nice if this kind of thing got more attention, because it really has more to it than so many other major-label things.

One last quote going back to the dichotomy: "At concerts I would sometimes see both Joe Klee and Gary Giddins in the house, knowing that one only liked jazz with banjos and tubas and the other couldn't abide that stuff. So in effect I was assured of a bad review from one of them before I'd even played a note. Such are the professional hazards of being a jazz musician in this day and age. As I was writing this tune I thought, boy, Joe Klee would really hate this. But then again he could sometimes surprise you with an unexpected liberal streak. So I figured I'd surprise him with an unexpected musical acknowledgment, and hence, Blues for Joe Klee."

Well worth checking out if you are a fan of the musicians involved and of creative jazz that moves the music into the future with a thorough understanding of the past.

http://www.randysandke.com/

Mike

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Thanks for this information.

I've got some Sandke on CD.

These certainly sound worthwhile.

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I've only heard the Mystic Trumpeter disc, which is pretty intriguing though it takes a while to hook into it. It's two suites for Scott Robinson/Ted Rosenthal/Greg Cohen/Dennis Mackrel, with Wycliffe Gordon joining for the "Symphony for Sextet". THe harmonic language is derived from Sandke's studies into "metatonality"--the use of chords outside the usual tonal system. It's not out-&-out dissonant but it's certainly got an edge to it. Robinson is often in a Sam Rivers bag on the fiercer pieces. Neat disc.

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Just got hold of the other two--haven't spun the Charlap/viols disc, but Outside In..... wow. That's a terrific disc. What'd you make of the other two releases, Mike?

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I have known Randy for 25 years and have always felt he was one of the best-kept secrets in jazz - he has always gone in and out of the trad scene, though his natural style is much more contemporary - as a matter of fact he played on my Woyzeck CD, on both standard-changes and free material - a brilliant trumpeter, arranger, and all-around very knowledgeable guy (also played at my wedding) -

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Just listening to Trumpet After Dark & it too is really fine stuff. The Chopin piece is unexpectedly effective as a freebop swinger...!

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The only Sandke recording I have heard is Inside Out on Nagel Heyer, which I thought was very good. Outside In sounds like it might be in a similar vein and something I might want to check out.

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The first I listened to was "Outside In", which points to the ability that Sandke has for making music that is very much aware of the early jazz tradition (Bix, Jelly Roll, Duke, etc.) but also stretching the boundaries of jazz. I mean, one of the tunes is "Ornette Chop Suey" - you get the point?

The band is remarkable: Wycliffe Gordon AND Ray Anderson on trombones; Marty Ehrlich, Scott Robinson, AND Ken Peplowski on woodwinds; Uri Caine on piano; Greg Cohen on bass; and Dennis Mackrel on drums. Howard Alden plays guitar on one track.

Some of the same guys are on the other CDs (The Mystic Trumpeter - Sandke, Robinson, Gordon, Ted Rosenthal, Cohen, Mackrel; and Trumpet After Dark - Sandke, Bill Charlap, Cohen, Mackrel with a viol consort, yes you read that right.)

These look great. Those are some intriguing sounding bands!

Anything with Scott Robinson is bound to be interesting...

Amen to that.

Elsewhere Robinson plays alto, baritone, clarinet, theremin, and waterphone - http://www.richardawaters.com/waterphone/ - an instrument which I was stunned to learn has appeared on about 30 jazz sessions.

I had never even heard of the Waterphone until a couple of months back, when I reviewed a Toru Takemitsu tribute concert, which included a piece by Tan Dun that opened with waterphones. An interesting though somewhat limited instrument--more of an "effects" thing, creating spooky, ethereal, "outer space" sounds.

Thanks for the heads-up on these, Mike. Outside In, especially, sounds to be right up my alley ("Ornette Chop Suey"! :lol: ).

Edited by Kalo

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Just caught Randy + Dick Hyman live here in Toronto--a great night of music. Hyman seems to be in a Tatum mood for much of the night ("Gone with the Wind" was virtually a gloss on the version on the Tatum/Webster album) though he also had a Willie the Lion Smith vibe going at other points, & (my favourite moments) elsewhere had a fractured tango/charleston/stoptime/bolero groove going which was pure Dick Hyman. Sandke was in wonderful form too--I found myself really paying close attention to him simply because he wasn't inclined to lean on premade licks at all: every note seemed to be considered & to have a potential for decision-making within it. Some touches of Roy Eldridge in his playing, I thought, especially on "Body & Soul" which reminded me of the Newport Rebels version for Candid.

Picked up the 1st Inside Out album, which I was pleased to see has liners by Larry Kart. A very fine album, though I'd still give the nod to the sequel.

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Hmmm - I very much disagree that the Genesis and Revelation pieces failed. They work wonderfully in my opinion. And Robinson's "voice of God" is not contrabass clarinet, but contrabass saxophone. Likewise, those are viols, not violas on the Trumpet After Dark CD.

Mike

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Yeah, I thought it weird he dissed those tracks--I like them a lot!

Ah well. At least it got a prominent & largely positive review.

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My reaction to Sandke is much like my reaction to Easley Blackwood: Very bright guys doing very intelligent things that never engage me. Sorry folks but I end up thinking they wasted their energy and my time.

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the great thing about Randy is that he is a true post-modernist, in the same sense as someone like Jaki Byard - he has a complete and natural commmand of the history of the horn and the music, but never uses it self-consciously, just plays what he knows and, like Jaki, seems to know virtually everything -

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Nice comparison of Sandke to the likes of Jaki Byard, Allen. I definitely hear that.

I bought Outside In, and I am really enjoying it. "Ornette Chop Suey," for one, lives up to its title -- which is really saying something. I also enjoy how the disc is bookended by the two versions of the Jelly Roll Morton composition "Ganjam."

Thanks for this thread, Mike. I can see more Sandke in my future.

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I am currently listening to "Get Happy" on the Concord label. Sandke performs tunes by Monk, Mingus, Miles Davis, Ellington as well as standards by Arlen, Berlin, Donaldson with a great line-up of Ken Peplowsky (ts, cl) Robert Trowers (tb) Kenny Barron (p) John Goldsby (b) and Terry Clarke (dms). Recommended!

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I always thought Randy was tremendous and wanted to work with him. Hope that happens someday. His own projects, including the 'metaharmonic' stuff----whatever the hell that is---are very interesting and wide-ranging in scope. Even his guitar playing on NY Stories is pretty good.

As for Scott Robinson, the same, though I did play at a private session with him, Joe Magnarelli, Walt Weiskopf, and others. He took out a new flugelhorn besides tenor, and was so tasty. I tried to get him on a tour once, but he was going to Brazil. I know Bob Brookmeyer is a big fan.

One day, guys...

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