The Randy Sabien Ensemble
Saturday, March 7
Strings educator, jazz master, music author and record producer, Randy Sabien is also one of those rare talents to be hailed as both a violinist and a fiddler.
Although Sabien’s musical aspirations began by studying classical violin, his direction did an about face the day he discovered he could play jazz on the violin. He poured himself into the music of the swing era and began teaching himself to play along with records of his favorite jazz artists. He also continued to appreciate the music of his own generation; the 60’s and 70’s. This led to inspired renditions of tunes by the Beatles, The Grateful Dead, the Allman Brothers and others. Meanwhile, his own compositions developed as straight ahead jazz for violin. When he put out his first album, In a Fog (©1983), it was received with glowing reviews from Downbeat, JazzTimes, Billboard and others.
Upon his latest release, Rhythm and Bows (©2008), Randy Sabien has assembled a new band featuring three violins. Inspired by the 1930’s Western swing music of Bob Wills, Sabien plugs the concept of multiple fiddles into be-bop, blues-rock, and beyond. Fueled by a four-piece rhythm section, The Fiddlehead Band pays homage to the history of American roots string playing while stretching beyond contemporary conventions. Whether a classic Western swing tunes such as “Maiden’s Prayer,” an instrumental version of a Grateful Dead song, “Stella Blue,” or a swinging Duke Ellington tune, “Mr. Gentle and Mr. Cool,” as the generations-old tradition created by Wills and The Texas Playboys would say: If it makes people dance, Randy Sabien & The Fiddlehead Band will play it!
From Sabien’s classical violin youth to a professional career spanning four decades, he has been a favorite guest of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Austin City Limits” and has toured the world playing in different styles and with many music greats, from Béla Fleck to Greg Brown. As an educator, Sabien founded and chaired the Strings departments at Berklee College of Music (1978) and McNally Smith College of Music (2009), while his teaching savvy has served students of all ages as “artist in residence” in communities spanning nineteen states, Canada, and Europe. Sabien recently coauthored Jazz Philharmonic (Alfred Publishing), an innovative exploration of jazz methods for string orchestras.
With an endless variety of performance formats and educational settings, Sabien can adapt to virtually any performance situation; festivals, universities, concert halls and clubs. Whatever the scene, when RANDY SABIEN picks up his violin, get ready. His rhythmic, bluesy, swingin’ sound will have you bobbing your head, tapping your toes and dancing right out of your chair!