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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf, Glyn Pursglove

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Unconventional Wisdom

Arbors Jazz ARCD 19365



1. Just One of Those Things
2. Ev´ry Time We Say Goodbye
3. Meta Blue
4. New Orleans
5. The Best Thing For You
6. Nicki´s Journey
7. Django´s Dream
8. Little Bix
9. Chega de Saudade
10. December Down
11. For All we Know
12. We´re In Love
13. Funkallero
14. Toyland
Randy Sandke - Trumpet, flugelhorn
Howard Alden - Guitar
Nicki Parrott - Bass, vocals
John Riley - Drums


Having heard Randy Sandke at several Swinging Jazz Parties in Blackpool, I know he is an exceptional trumpeter with an unerring technique. He seems capable of playing anything, as he shows at the very start of this CD with a speedy Just One of Those Things, where he launches straight into a solo without stating the melody (except in the middle eight). Howard Alden sounds slightly uncomfortable with the fast tempo, but drummer John Riley readily swaps dextrous eights and fours with Sandke.

Nicki Parrott is a first-class bassist who keeps the rhythm flowing. She is also an able singer and contributes several vocals to the album, although Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye is not the best choice, since any singer would be hard pushed to match Ella Fitzgerald's classic interpretation. Nicki is happier singing For All We Know, where her gentle style fits the tranquil ballad.

Randy Sandke wrote five originals for the album, of which Meta Blue has an agreeable solo from Howard Alden. The following New Orleans demonstrates Randy's awareness of jazz tradition. Nicki contributes a bass solo as well as a nice vocal, with Sandke's obbligato accompanying her rather in Louis Armstrong mode. His trumpet solo also has an Armstrong feel to it.

Some of Randy's originals use his special "metatonal" approach, which I found indigestible when I heard a whole album of such pieces that he recorded a while ago. But they are more acceptable when interleaved with more conventional items, as they are here. Nicki's Journey (referring to Nicki Parrott's emigration to the USA from Australia in 1994) has a dislocated rhythmic sense and the solos take a similarly wayward path. Nicki sings wordlessly along with her bass solo, not quite like Slam Stewart. Little B (dedicated to Randy's young son Bix) is another metatonal number, with Sandke playing the flugelhorn.

Howard Alden subtly introduces and plays the theme of Django's Dream, adapted by Randy Sandke from Debussy's Reverie (which was also adapted in 1938 as the popular song My Reverie). Nicki Parrott sings the words, which Randy wrote ages ago when he was trying to play the guitar like Django Reinhardt.

Chega de Saudade bustles along cheerfully - an appropriate nod to Dizzy Gillespie, whose recording of the tune inspired Sandke. You can hear hints of Dizzy's style in Randy's solo. December Down sounds reminiscent of Lionel Hampton's Midnight Sun. It is another of Randy's compositions which play harmonic tricks on the listener. Bill Evans's Funkallero is given a Latin-American beat, and the CD closes with Sandke and Alden duetting on Victor Herbert's Toyland.

As I write this review, I should be in Blackpool seeing Randy Sandke, Nicki Parrott and others at the Jazz Party, but it has regrettably been cancelled for lack of support. With good recording quality and useful sleeve-notes by Ed Berger, this album provides timely compensation for my disappointment.

Tony Augarde




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