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After forty-plus years on the New York jazz scene, trumpeter Randy Sandke has made himself a new home base in Southwest Florida. He moved to Venice a few months ago and has settled into the fertile area jazz scene.

While he has had some gigs as a sideman, Sunday, January 6 brought his first area concert as a bandleader. And a fine one it was. His quintet included saxophonist Peter BarenBregge, pianist Joe Delaney, bassist Don Mopsick and drummer David Pruyn – with Sandke acknowledging them as “stalwarts of the Florida jazz scene.”

Their credentials extend much farther. BarenBregge, who moved to Venice in 2017 from Virginia, was a twenty-plus year member of the Airmen of Note military jazz band – and its musical director for many years. Delaney, a Cape Cod jazz fixture who also played in the Artie Shaw Orchestra, moved to Fort Myers to work regularly with trumpeter Lou Colombo. Mopsick held the bass chair in Jim Cullum’s Riverwalk Jazz Band in San Antonio for 18 years. Pruyn, a triple-threat on drums, trumpet and vocals, now leads the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.

The wide-ranging program touched on classic jazz, the Great American Songbook, a bit of bluesy bebop, and some originals from Sandke and pianist-composer Dick Hyman, another Venice resident, who was in the house. BarenBregge was featured with the rhythm section on “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” and “It Could Happen to You.” Delaney got his moment in the spotlight on “You Look Good to Me,” a classically influenced composition whose definitive recording was by the Oscar Peterson trio. It rightfully has been described as sounding like as swinging version of a Bach fugue.

Other favorite moments:

  • Chicago-born Sandke’s poignant exploration of the Bob Haggart tune “What’s New,” which became a pop mega-hit for Linda Ronstadt in 1983. “Bob was a great man who finished up his career here in Venice,” Sandke said. “This tune probably paid for his house in Venice.”
  • The world-premiere performance of Hyman’s new composition “Cornet Chow Mein,” inspired by Louis Armstrong’s 1926 recording “Cornet Chop Suey” by his Hot Five band. With Sandke digging deep into his classic jazz chops, this was a strong tribute to Armstrong’s musical essence.
  • Sandke’s two original pieces were “Say,” a sprightly, modern piece inspired by Irving Berlin’s “Say It With Music,” and the older “Relaxin’ at Clifford’s,” which in this delivery was imbued with the bluesy, tight 1960s bebop feel of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
  • Then there was their splendid take on a Phil Woods arrangement of “Willow Weep for Me.” The arrangement is actually a mash-up, using today’s jazz vernacular. Sandke and BarenBregge played the Willow” melody over the rhythm section’s delivery of Miles Davis’s classic hit “All Blues.” It was a seamless effort.
Sandke & Co. performed for the South County Jazz Club in a matinee concert held at Venice Presbyterian Church.

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This story appears courtesy of Ken Franckling's Jazz Notes.
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