Randy Sabien is a bluesy, rockin', swingin', funky, jazz violinist. With an intensely rhythmic, vibrant and inventive style, he has captivated audiences worldwide, playing with scores of bands and musicians of all stripes.
He was planning to be a drummer when he set out on his musical path, but fate stepped in when the conductor of the high school orchestra persuaded him to play the violin in fourth grade. So with a bow in his hand instead of drumsticks, he began studying classical violin by day and playing along to records of his favorite 60s rock bands by night.
Having immersed himself in these two musical forms he went on to college hoping to further his musical education and the dream of playing and touring with a band.
This is when lightening struck in the form of a vinyl record by legendary jazz violinist, Stephane Grappelli. Hearing Grappelli and the other virtuoso violinists from the swing era opened up a new world of possibilities which, after nine years of playing the violin, Randy never knew existed. Not only did he find his voice, he went on to create a place in education where this music would be a prominent part of the foundation for any aspiring string student who came his way.
Only two years later at age 21, he founded and chaired the string department at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Since then he has gone on to teach internationally and is co-author, along with Bob Phillips, of the acclaimed Jazz Philharmonic Series, his teaching method for alternative strings -- available at Alfred Music Publishing.
With Randy's growing reputation as a pioneer in modern string education, performances are almost always coupled with a workshop or a visit to a nearby string department. In fact, with more than 30 years of hands-on experience, he is reprising his role of starting a college level alternative string department. This time it's at McNally Smith College of Music in St Paul, Minnesota where his students receive Bachelor and Master degrees in alternative string education from an extraordinary working musician and a gifted teacher who's been there and back.
In a Fog, Randy's first album, was released on vinyl LP in 1983 by Flying Fish Records.
Listen closely to Sabien's great cascades of notes, and you will hear the grand arpeggios, broken octaves, double-stops, trills, and tremolos that have marked classical violin playing since the solo work of J.S. Bach. But that's just the starting point for Sabien's art which bristles with the spirit of bona fide jazz improvisation. Rather than simply embellishing a tune, he reconcieves it, building and developing intriguing new musical motifs along the way.
Howard Reich, CHICAGO TRIBUNE
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