rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 03/14/2008
Randy Sabien - Rhythm and Bows
Fiddlehead Music © 2008

Reviewed by Gary Hill
out of

Very few Rockford natives have earned critical accolades from publications as far reaching and diverse as “The Christian Science Monitor,” “Billboard” and “USA Today.” Randy Sabien is one of those people. Rhythm and Bows is his latest CD and it is a fine example of why he gets such great reviews.

Although Sabien grew up in Rockford, he’s living in Northern Wisconsin these days. April 12th will have him back in town for a CD release party/concert at the Mendelssohn PAC. With music like you’ll find on this CD there’s no question those in attendance will be in for a great show.

Billed as a “jazz” violinist, Sabien shows that he’s not willing to be tied down to any one musical motif. Genre labels are for lesser musicians, serving as border guards on their talents. Yes, the majority of this disc fits under the jazz banner, but Sabien doesn’t seem to feel any pressure to kiss up to the genre god. Instead he borrows from country, folk and ethnic traditions to create a sound that’s unique to him. The blues gets some healthy servings on this disc, too. That really doesn’t require special mention, though because, as one of my music teachers was fond of saying, “you can have the blues without jazz, but you can’t have jazz without the blues.”

The one glue that binds all this music together is Randy Sabien. His presence is felt not only in terms of his violin playing, but also in terms of his sense of musical adventure and style. Only three of the songs on the CD are original compositions of Sabien’s, but all bear his signature in terms of their treatment. He even covers a couple tunes by the Grateful Dead. The end result is a CD that should be of interest to fans of all eras of jazz but should find an audience outside that group, too.

Sabien is joined on this CD by Jeff Eckels (bass), Dan Kleiman (keyboard), Dane Richeson (drums, percussion), Clyde Stubblefied (drums) and special guest Matt Turner on cello. The musicians create a blend of music that will often surprise, usually captivate and never bore. This is powerful jazz for a new generation of fans. If this CD is any indication, those who make it to Sabien’s show are in for a great musical adventure. Whether you are there or not, you can bring the excitement home with this CD.

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