Randy Sandke (trumpet); Bill Charlap (piano); Greg Cohen (bass); Dennis Mackrel (drums) with the Parthenia Viol Consort: Rosamund Morley (treble viol); Beverly Au (treble and Bass viol); Lawrence Lipnik (tenor viol); Lisa Terry (treble and bass viol)
ABOUT THIS CD:
With some notable exceptions, jazz and strings has too often been synonymous with "sweetening" or diluting the music to appeal to a broader audience. But Randy Sandke, through his use of a string section comprised of viols, as well as his always trenchant writing and commanding trumpet technique, breathes new life into the "jazz-with-strings" concept. Sandke's influences and interests encompass Beiderbecke, Armstrong, metatonal music and everything in between. The trumpeter has proven a most inventive writer for strings-just listen to his album Awakening (Concord), a collaboration with the Bulgarian National Symphony. This latest effort, consisting primarily of ballads and other atmospheric pieces, is certainly easy to listen to but is far from "easy listening." In Bill Charlap, Greg Cohen, and Dennis Mackrel, Sandke could not have chosen more sympathetic colleagues for this new musical venture. He calls Charlap "one of the most extraordinary musicians I've ever worked with." Like Sandke himself, the pianist is at home in any setting and never "phones it in." His profound respect for melody is particularly germane to this project. Greg Cohen is arguably the most eclectic of all current jazz musicians. The bassist is equally at home in the bands of Ornette Coleman, John Zorn, and Kenny Davern, with each sounding as if to the manner born. Early in his career Dennis Mackrel held the drum chair in the Count Basie band before joining forces with Hank Jones, Tommy Flanagan, and Joe Williams, among many others. Both Cohen and Mackrel are superior soloists and sensitive accompanists and, as Sandke notes, "They work phenomenally well as a team."
ABOUT RANDY SANDKE:
Randy Sandke has performed at festivals, clubs, and concerts around the world. He has toured Europe over forty times and performed extensively throughout Japan, the U.S., Canada, and India.
Randy has recorded over twenty albums as a leader, primarily on the Concord and German Nagel-Heyer label. A recent discography, published by the Dutch jazz scholar Gerard Beilderman, runs to 53 pages. Among the artists Mr. Sandke has recorded with include the instrumentalists Michael Brecker, Benny Goodman, Kenny Barron, Dick Hyman, Mulgrew Miller, Bill Charlap, Eric Reed, Frank Wess, Ray Anderson, Chris Potter, Sweets Edison, Flip Phillips, Scott Hamilton, Wycliffe Gordon, Warren Vache, and Mel Lewis; singers include Mel Torme, Jon Hendricks, Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, John Pizzarelli, Gregory Hines, Art Garfunkel, Barbara Carroll, Dr. John, Karrin Allyson, Susannah McCorkle, as well as appearances with Diane Reeves, Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, James Taylor, Chaka Khan, Billy Eckstine, and Joe Williams.
Randy Sandke has played on the soundtracks of several films, including Francis Ford Coppola's "The Cotton Club," Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach Memories," "American Splendor," and five Woody Allen movies. On Broadway, Randy played in the production of "Chicago" with Beebe Neuwirth at the City Center, which launched the hugely successful revivals on stage and screen. Randy also played the on-stage Harry James trumpet solo which climaxes the show "Fosse." He recorded all trumpet solos for the recent production of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" starring Whoopee Goldberg. He has performed on television in Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, in the U.S. with Benny Goodman for a PBS special, and on the Late Show with David Letterman.
As a composer, Randy Sandke has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has had pieces performed at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd St. YMHA, the Greenwich House in New York City, and Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center. The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band has performed six of his suites. In 1998, the Concord Concerto label released an album featuring several of Mr. Sandke's orchestral compositions in performances by the Bulgarian National Orchestra. Over eighty of Mr. Sandke's pieces have been recorded. In July of 2003 his "Subway Ballet" was performed at the 92nd St. Y in New York City. He has written arrangements for Sting, Elton John, the King of Thailand, and transcriptions for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.
Randy Sandke's book, "Harmony for a New Millennium" was published by Hal Leonard, Inc. in 2002 It details a method of exploring non-tonal harmony in the context of both composition and improvisation. Artists who have endorsed the book include Jon Faddis, Joshua Redman, Maria Schneider, Dick Hyman, Nicholas Payton, and Michael Brecker. Randy has also written scholarly articles on jazz history for the Oxford Companion to Jazz and the Rutgers University "Annual Review of Jazz Studies." He has been a guest lecturer at the Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, the New School, Hofstra University, Rutgers University, Hampshire College, William Patterson College, and the University of Arizona.
Mr. Sandke is listed in the standard biographical sources, such as the "Encyclopedia of Jazz," and most jazz CD reference guides. Jazz Times ran a feature article on him in the October 2002 issue, and the English magazine Jazz Journal profiled Randy in a two-part cover story in 1996. His recent CD, Inside Out, was named one of the top ten albums of the year by Jazz Times in 2002.