Randy Sandke has to be one of the most underrated trumpet players on the planet. Along with being a fine composer/arranger, he has an absolutely beautiful sound on the instrument, with a very full sound in all registers.In addition, he has tremendous range, which he uses judiciously to great effect. His solos are like mini-works of art, effortlessly constructed seemingly at will. In short , he has it all -- tone, range, limitless imagination , and above all, taste -- a trait which seems to elude many jazztrumpeters.
On his new Nagel Heyer release, "Cliffhanger", Randy, alongwith Harry Allen on tenor, and Wycliffe Gordon (for one track) on trombone, form a formidable front line as they tackle a great bunch of standard tunes , as well as a few Sandke originals. They are pushed relentlessly by the "Rolls-Royce" rhythm section of Mulgrew Miller, Peter and Kenny Washington (no relation). There are understandably quite a few highlights -- but a few really stand out. "Let's Face the Music and Dance" is taken at a fast clip, with a typically swinging solo by Randy and a bubbling solo by Allen. The gorgeous"What's New" (penned by the late Bob Haggart) is given a beautiful new look byRandy , showcasing his clear , open sound and impressive range. Along the samelines, "I Fall In Love Too Easily" has a wistful quality to it, and featuresa stunning Sandke solo. A cooking, latin-tinged "I Concentrate on You" , alternates with a cooking , swinging middle solo section. Mulgrew really shines on this one -- is there a more tasteful and swinging accompanist ??Harry Allen follows with a killer solo , and the tune is taken out with that Latin vamp. Definitely one of the highlights of the CD -- check out Randyand Harry's back and forth on the fade out. There are three Sandke originals,several of which in my opinion stand out . "Cliffhanger" features a funky head, as well as stop-time sections, where the innovative Wycliffe Gordon really gets to strut his stuff and "One for Mulgrew" is a nice feature for theafore-mentioned Miller. Over and out with a lightning fast , chop buster "Limehouse Blues" , which , after a deceptively modern opening sequence, plunges right into a super-fast four, which cooks mightily, to say the least.Whew!!!
This CD offers proof positive that Randy Sandke is one of the verybest jazz trumpeters playing today. Starting with his work for Concord Jazz , right through to the many Nagel-Heyers he has been featured on , he has beenan incredibly consistent player in ALL types of contexts. If you don't believeme, check out his previous CD "Inside Out" , also on Nagel Heyer. It is quitetime that the jazz press and general listening public took much greater noticeof Mr.Sandke. "Cliffhanger" is an excellent place to start.