There is much to admire in this album, subtitled Jazz In A Meditative Mood. Trumpeter Randy Sandke has been actively recording since 1985, largely in a postwar swing and mainstream style, although Mainstream Meets the New Music, his 2002 venture into free jazz, raised some eyebrows and garnered new fans. Sandke is comfortable working in a "jazz with strings" setting, and his arrangements here are quite attractive. Many of these selections recall the albums that cornetist Ruby Braff made under a "Mood Jazz" heading with strings or brass ensembles during the 1950s. However, Trumpet After Dark improves on the past.
Sandke's jazz quartet features pianist Bill Charlap, bassist Greg Cohen, and drummer Dennis Mackrel. He has chosen a viol quartet, Parthenia, and it is likely that this is the first instance in which the viola da gamba has been used in a jazz context. Parthenia's deep sonorous timbre, as heard in the opening of "Being Human," sounds like Renaissance music before Sandke's clarion melody statement, without seeming out of place.
Randy Sandke has contributed five originals, of which two, "Quiet Is The Night" and "Nocturne," were written specifically for this album. Both "Nocturne" and and "Lullabye For Karen" are standouts. Most of these tunes are performed in ballad or mid-tempo with, oddly enough, the swingingest track being Chopin's "Etude In E." I enjoyed the eclectic choice of material from a variety of sources, such as a song taken from a Nana Mouskouri album, another from English composer John Dowland, and a piano duet with Charlap on "Monk's Mood." In addition, the standards "Lush Life" and "Star Crossed Lovers" blend in well. Throughout the album, Bill Charlap provides his usual sensitive accompanist role, as well as soloing to match Sandke's lyrical trumpet work.
Track Listing: Quiet Is The Night; Nocturne; Being Human; Goodbye For Now; Star Crossed Lovers; Etude
In E; Le Jour Ou La Colombe; Monk's Mood; A Blues Serenade; Can She Excuse My Wrongs;
Lullabye For Karen; Blues For Sandy; Lush Life; Soul Eyes.
Personnel: Randy Sandke: trumpet; Bill Charlap: piano; Greg Cohen: bass; Dennis Mackrel:drums;
Rosamund Morley: treble viol; Beverly Au: treble and bass viol; Lawrence Lipnik: tenor viol;
Lisa Terry: treble and bass viol.