Sunday, March 6, 2011

Randy Sandke Meets Bix Beiderbecke

Aunque no hemos terminado, ni muchísimo menos, con las grabaciones clásicas, comenzamos aquí una "serie" dedicada a las mejores versiones y adaptaciones contemporáneas de los maestros de los años 20 (Louis, Bix, Oliver, Jelly Roll y compañía). Lo de contemporáneas es un decir, porque vamos a traer registros de los años 70 hasta la actualidad, pero en fin, ya nos entendemos. Para no hacer la puñeta a quienes buenamente intentan ganarse la vida tocando estas extrañas músicas, intentaremos que en su mayor parte se trate de grabaciones descatalogadas o de muy difícil acceso. Lo cierto es que no abunda el buen material de jazz tradicional accesible en el mundo de los blogs y demás, pero, ya saben, ¡hay que comprar algún que otro disco, de vez en cuando! Comenzamos con un gran trompetista (y guitarrista, por cierto), nacido en Chicago en 1949, Randy Sandke, que amén de un buen puñado de álbumes más que recomendables en su haber, participó en las bandas sonoras de grandes películas, como "The Cotton Club" de Coppola o "Balas Sobre Broadway" de Woody Allen, entre otras. Una maravilla, lo que el señor Sandke, y sus cómplices los "New York All Stars" hacen con el cancionero de Bix Beiderbecke en directo. Si les gusta este disco, les sugiero escuchen otro muy similar y quizás incluso mejor, llamado "Celebrating Bix!: The Bix Beiderbecke Centennial All Stars Celebrate His 100th Birthday" (Arbors Records, 2003), junto al cornetista Jon-Erik Kellso, al pianista Dick Hyman y al ocupadísimo multi-instrumentista Vince Giordano: mano de santo (pero éste van a tener que localizarlo en tiendas, y serán unos eurillos muy, pero que muy bien invertidos, créanme).
-Jay Bee Rodríguez

Randy Sandke and his band give new life to these Bix classics, faithfully recreating the spirit (and occasionally the solos) of the original recordings in crisp, modern sound. This CD is essentially a recorded live concert, given in Hamburg, Germany on May 1, 1993. Sandke provides short spoken intros to each piece, and audience applause is audible at the ends of tracks, but don't let that deter you from buying this CD. The music is top-notch! Sandke brilliantly recreates many of Bix's famous solos, adding his own little twists along the way. Other instrumentalists seem to be given more room to improvise freely on solos. Marty Grosz contributes contributes some fine guitar playing and a particularly interesting solo version of "Changes," but his terrible vocal on "I'll Be A Friend With Pleasure" (complete with hokey "daddy-daddy-daaa" ending) nearly ruins the piece. Fortunately, Sandke's stirring original cornet solo saves it. The musicians here work together very well. The elecrified bass gives some of the pieces a slightly more contemporary feel, but I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. As a big-time "Bix fan," I enjoyed this CD tremendously. Since I bought it a couple months ago, I've played it dozens of times. It makes for particularly stimulating drive-time music in my car! Sandke strikes a nice balance of old and new, remaining respectful of the original Bix records, while allowing his musicians room for somewhat more personal expression that keep the performances from being stale straight-ahead recreations of records already made. The rousing take on Goldkette's famous "My Pretty Girl" alone is worth the price of the disc. Highly recommended!
-Scott Yanow

For this live concert, trumpeter Randy Sandke directed the New York All-Stars (which also include Dan Barrett on trombone and trumpet, clarinetist Ken Peplowski, Scott Robinson on bass sax, C-melody sax and cornet, pianist Mark Shane, guitaristvocalist Marty Grosz, bassist Linc Milliman and drummer Dave Ratajczak) through 18 songs associated with Bix Beiderbecke. The music is sometimes arranged and programmed loosely in chronological order but essentially this concert gives the talented players an opportunity to jam on such tunes as "Fidgety Fett," "My Pretty Girl," "Riverboat Shuffle," "China Boy" and "At the Jazzband Ball." Everyone is in fine form and on two songs there are actually three trumpets (with Barrett and Robinson joining Sandke). This is fun music that is played with spirit and made available by the German Nagel-Heyer label.

Randy Sandke's 1993 concert tribute to the legendary cornetist Bix Beiderbecke is classic jazz at its best, not just mere note for note re-creations, but capturing the spirit of the original recordings. Surrounding himself with some of the best players of the last decade of the 20th century, including clarinetist Ken Peplowski, trombonist Dan Barrett, multi-reed player Scott Robinson, and the dependable (and often zany) guitarist Marty Grosz, the trumpeter and his band have the Hamburg audience in their palms from the opening track, a spirited take of "Fidgety Feet." The solos are at a consistently high level, with no one player threatening to dominate the proceedings; even Grosz, who can be an overbearing showboat in a live setting, keeps his unaccompanied vocal rendition of "Changes" somewhat restrained, showcasing his skills as an acoustic guitarist as well. One of the small group highlights features Peplowski and pianist Mark Shane in a rousing rendition of "China Boy." Highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden

Personnel: Randy Sandke (leader, trumpet); Scott Robinson (saxophone); Dan Barrett (trombone); Ken Peplowski (clarinet); Mark Shane (piano); Marty Grosz (guitar, vocals); Linc Milliman (bass); Dave Ratajczak (drums). Recorded live in Hamburg, Germany, 1993. This is a digitally remastered version of The Bix Beiderbecke Era (Nagel Heyer), and contains bonus tracks.

01. Fidgety Feet 4:14
02. Tia Juana 3:49
03. Davenport Blues 3:19
04. My Pretty Girl 3:44
05. Singin' The Blues / I'm Comin' Virginia 5:59
06. Changes 2:40
07. When 3:05
08. Because My Baby Don't Mean Maybe Now 3:39
09. Sorry 5:53
10. Wait Till You See Ma Cherie 4:13
11. Riverboat Shuffle 4:50
12. China Boy 4:35
13. My Melancholy Baby 5:08
14. At The Jazz Band Ball 5:43
15. I'll Be A Friend With Pleasure 4:50
16. Clarinet Marmalade 5:08
17. Sweet Sue 7:13



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