Jazz violinists usually draw from one of two traditions. The best of both can be found in the superb Randy Sabien... he com-
bines classical technique and folk energy in a program that's still strictly jazz.
Showing technical dexterity, sentient depth, pleasing tone and keen phrasing in courteous respect to Stephane Grappelli.
picks up his violin, get ready.
Randy Sabien is a jazz violinist.
That means he plays jazz on the violin, right?
Answer: Yes, No and What do you mean by jazz?
For Randy, the term Jazz Violin is little more than the name of the musical genre where his recordings are found. He regularly steps beyond the boundaries of what many think of as jazz, forging headlong into the worlds of rock, blues and funk. His career began with classical violin lessons, he soon picked up fiddling and from there it was only natural he would find himself playing along with his favorite rock tunes. Then at age 19 he was reborn with the discovery that you could play jazz on the violin. The resulting sound is swinging, rocking, rhythmic and bluesy with a fiddle that often plays more like a saxophone than a violin. There are shades of Duke and Miles and you can certainly hear the echoes of the great jazz violinists from the swing era but above all, Randy is a product of his time - someone who grew up playing the violin while immersed in the music of the 60s and 70s.
Teaching himself to play outside the lines also served to develop another major component in Randy's career. He is a pioneer and leader in the world of modern string education. He began in 1978 by creating the first college degree program for contemporary string performance at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also teamed up with the string editor at Alfred Music Publishing to produce Jazz Philharmonic, an acclaimed comprehensive method for alternative styles on violin, viola, cello and bass. Currently Randy is the founding chair of the String Department at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minnesota offering both Bachelors and Masters degrees in alternative string performance.
We hope you are inspired to listen, look and go a little deeper into Randy's body of work on his updated website. Be sure to visit the Music page and check out his nine diverse studio releases including his work with The Fiddlehead Band and collaborations with a host of other extraordinary musicians. If you're an aspiring string student, you'll want to take a look at the Jazz Philharmonic Series complete with play-along CD. See the new feature we added to our CD pages - Liner Notes by Randy where he discusses what informed each release. Enjoy the music!
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