THE SANDOLE BROTHERS & GUESTS
Stephen T. McCarthy's post about the passing of one of his jazz heroes had a few excerpts from Wikipedia that reminded me of the two jazz musicians in my family.
Adolph and Dennis Sandole were my uncles, and growing up I had no idea how well known and respected they were in musician circles.
Of course, my mother would tell me, but I was interested in rock-I really didn't know what jazz was.
When Uncle Adolph died in the ealy eighties, I was stunned at some of the people who attended the services. There were big musical names, including rockers that even I recognized.
A few years after that, I tried to learn guitar, and my teacher, coincidentally, was one of Dennis' students. He would tell me stories of how Uncle D would threaten to cut off his thumb if it hung over the fretboard. He'd also tell me of the musicians who studied at my uncle's studio, and try to demonstrate some of the musical concepts my uncle had created, which mostly were far too complex for me to appreciate.
Years later, I was helping my uncle with something around his house, and he asked me why I never stuck with guitar. I commented how it was a mistake to start playing when I was working for a CPA firm-the demands of the profession do not allow for much practice time. I'd mentioned how I'd always asked my mother for lessons as a kid, and we just could not afford them. He said "I'd have taught you for free."
Now he tells me!
Sadly, I never heard my uncles play while theu were alive.
When Uncle Dennis died, his obituary ran in Rolling Stone, Time and People, among other publications. Here are links to a couple of stories:
After Uncle Dennis died, I decided to try to find some of my uncles' recorded music. Unfortunately, the vinyl had long since gone out of print, and was nearly impossible to find. When I did find a copy, it was priced at hundreds of dollars.
Fantasy Records to the rescue! In 2001, Fantasy released this compilation featuring two mid-50s sessions, the original LPs issued as "Modern Music from Philadelphia by the Brothers Sandole" and "The Clarinet Artistry of John LaPorta."
The "Guests" joining the Sandole Brothers (guitarist Dennis and baritone saxophonist Adolph for the record) include Art Farmer, Teo Macero, George Barrow, Wendell Marshall and Milt Hinton among others.
I was pleasantly surprised to find this title on CD, and ordered two copies (one for me, one for my mother).
I can't do much justice on a review, because I simply have not listened to enough jazz to have a perspective on this. I have been told that the music is highly original and very forward thinking, and that you can hear what students like John Coltrane garnered from Dennis the teacher.
My uncles shared stages with Tommy Dorsey and Charlie Barnet, backed Frank Sinatra and Billie Holiday in the studio, and taught a few people students may have heard of, including John Coltrane, James Moody, Pat Martino, Rob Brown, Matthew Shipp, and Michael Brecker. I think their resume holds up, so I would encourage jazz fans to give this a listen.
This is the only piece of their recorded music I've been able to find, and it has a lot of sentimental value for me. Anyone who comes across other titles, if you would not mind picking up a copy for me...
Thanks, Stephen T for the inspiration to post this. And make sure to leave me a good note about the CD after I lend it to ya, because you'll be writing the review!
And to Uncles Adolph and Dennis, who if you're watching me type this and can hear that I am listening to The Smithereens instead of jazz-I hope you guys will still put in a good word or two for me at the gate! I miss you both.
This one's for you, Mom!