Randy Sabien turns it up to 11. 11 albums that is. In collaboration with Chopper Black, legendary Twin Cities engineer, Soul of a Man presents Sabien as a swinging fiddler, versatile songwriter, and benevolent bandleader. This latest effort continues the exploration of triple fiddles he began on his previous release Rhythm and Bows and is the same concept he's been honing on stage in live performances for the past few years. The set list on Soul of a Man is bookended by the Spade Cooley compositions Spadella and Three Way Boogie. Sandwiched in between are tunes by Allman Brothers guitarist Dickie Betts, Bob Wills, and new original songs featuring guest vocalists Pat Donohue and Prudence Johnson.
Calling him a jazz violinist only captures a glimpse of how he views himself "One of my musical heroes is Robbie Robertson of The Band. While he wrote most of the group's material, he didn't sing the songs himself and as the guitarist he wasn't the main focus but a sideman who took an occasional solo. I like taking that role in my own band."
The material is also drawn from a broader field of influence than your typical jazz instrumentalist. "I'm inspired by the variety of material Bob Wills' group would play. Fiddle tunes, hot swinging instrumentals, blues, Tin Pan Alley style songs - anything that would get the audience dancing. This new record has all that plus musical developments that happened later like the Grateful Dead space jam and rock and roll grooves."
The album was recorded at the McNally Smith College of Music (where Sabien is String Dept. Head) with college faculty comprising most of the rhythm section: Steve Jennings - drums, Bobby Stanton - guitar, Jeff Bailey - bass, Steve Faison - percussion. Keyboardist Matt Buchman is director of jazz studies at UW Stevens Point. The bonus track High On Love is from McNally Smith's faculty sampler Seven Song Cycle and features Judi Donaghy Vinar and Shon Parker on vocals.
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