Swing University Randy Sandke's Biography

Trumpeter and composer Randy Sandke has performed at festivals, clubs, and concerts around the world. He has toured Europe over forty times and performed extensively throughout Japan, the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and India.

Randy has recorded over thirty albums as a leader, primarily on the Concord, Evening Star, Arbors and Nagel-Heyer label. A recent discography, published by the Dutch jazz scholar Gerard Beilderman, runs to 53 pages. Among the artists Mr. Sandke has recorded with include the instrumentalists Michael Brecker, Benny Goodman, Kenny Barron, Dick Hyman, Mulgrew Miller, Bill Charlap, Eric Reed, Frank Wess, Ray Anderson, Chris Potter, Sweets Edison, Flip Phillips, Scott Hamilton, Wycliffe Gordon, Warren Vache, and Mel Lewis; singers include Mel Torme, Jon Hendricks, Rosemary Clooney, Cab Calloway, John Pizzarelli, Ann Hampton Callaway, Gregory Hines, Art Garfunkel, Barbara Carroll, Dr. John, Karrin Allyson, Susannah McCorkle, as well as appearances with Diane Reeves, Sting, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bette Midler, James Taylor, Seth McFarlane, Chaka Khan, Jimmy Witherspoon, Odetta, Catherine Russell, Billy Eckstine, and Joe Williams.

Randy Sandke has played on the soundtracks of several films, including Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club,” Neil Simon’s “Brighton Beach Memories,” “American Splendor,” and five Woody Allen movies. On Broadway, Randy played in the production of “Chicago” with Beebe Neuwirth at the City Center, which launched the hugely successful revivals on stage and screen. Randy also played the on-stage Harry James trumpet solo, which climaxes the show “Fosse.” He recorded all trumpet solos for the recent production of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” starring Whoopee Goldberg. He has performed on television in Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, in the U.S. with Benny Goodman for a PBS special, and on the Late Show with David Letterman.

As a composer, Randy Sandke has received two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has had pieces performed at Carnegie Hall, the 92nd St. YMHA, the Greenwich House in New York City, and Avery Fischer Hall at Lincoln Center. The Carnegie Hall Jazz Band has performed six of his suites. In 1998, the Concord Concerto label released an album featuring several of Mr. Sandke’s orchestral compositions in performances by the Bulgarian National Orchestra. Over ninety of Mr. Sandke’s pieces have been recorded. In July of 2003 his “Subway Ballet” was performed at the 92nd St. Y in New York City. He has written arrangements for Sting, Elton John, the King of Thailand, and transcriptions for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra.

Randy Sandke’s book Harmony for a New Millennium was published by Hal Leonard, Inc. in 2002 It details a method of exploring non-tonal harmony in the context of both composition and improvisation.  Artists who have endorsed the book include Jon Faddis, Joshua Redman, Maria Schneider, Dick Hyman, Nicholas Payton, and Michael Brecker. Randy has also written scholarly articles on jazz history for the Oxford Companion to Jazz and the Rutgers University Annual Review of Jazz Studies. In 2010, his book Where the Dark and the Light Folks Meet: Race and the Mythology, Politics, and Business of Jazz was published by Rowan and Littlefield Press. He has been a guest lecturer at the Julliard School, Manhattan School of Music, the New School, Hofstra University, Rutgers University, Hampshire College, William Paterson University, Hamilton College, and the University of Arizona.

Mr. Sandke is listed in the standard biographical sources, such as the “Encyclopedia of Jazz,” and most jazz CD reference guides. Jazz Times ran a feature article on him in the October 2002 issue, and the English magazine Jazz Journal profiled Randy in a two-part cover story in 1996 and again in 2012. In 2004 and 2005 Randy Sandke was the subject of feature articles in The Village Voice and The Wall Street Journal.