Sunday, June 26, 2011



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!


  1. '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.'

    That must have really left an impression on you, then.

  2. McL.C. ~
    Ah, I didn't realize you had already composed and posted this; I thought you were referring to a blog bit you planned to write in the near future.

    Well, it doesn't change anything I wrote in my response to your comment on my blog. Man, your Uncles were BIG TIME!

    Do you recall any of these Rock guitarists who attended your Uncle's funeral and whom you recognized by sight or name?

    YOU! - listening to sh#t like the Smithereens when you could be listening to your Uncles, or to Coltrane, Holiday, Brubeck, Goodman, etc. - you're an Uncle's monkey!

    Despite my criticism of your musical taste, may I please borrow your Uncles' CD for next Friday? Pretty please with a Dairy Queen Blizzard on top?!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  3. Suze- Sadly, not enough of an impression when the older brother passed. I took up guitar a few years after that and did not stay with it, and never sought out their music while the other uncle was alive. There were twenty years to discuss music with the surviving uncle, and sadly, it was very close to the end of those years that we really had a discussion about it.

    Stephen- I must be remembering someone else. I'd played their CD for someone and they didn't like it-it must not have been you.

    The guitarists that come immediately to mind were from bands you may not know-major label signings but Philly-based (Hooters, A's, Robert Hazard).

    If memory serves me, the guitarist in Stevie Wonder's band was there (I did not know him by name or sight) and a bunch of jazz musicians that I did not remember names of after my brothers or cousins pointed them out.

    This was 1979 or 1980, and I was barely out of high school, so it really did not register as impressive until a few years later.

    I happen to know for a fact that Uncle Dennis would be okay with me listeneing to rock music, as long as the guitarist keeps their thumb behind the neck of the guitar!


  4. No, it definitely was NOT me who heard and disliked your Uncles' music. I would certainly have remembered it had you played their music for me and told me the band leaders were members of your family.

    Actually, back in my youth, I owned the first album released by The Hooters. (Does I score any points for that?)

    >> . . . I happen to know for a fact that Uncle Dennis would be okay with me listeneing to rock music, as long as the guitarist keeps their thumb behind the neck of the guitar!

    Well, I seriously doubt that. Unless the Rock guitarists you were listening to were serious A-List musicians like Danny Gatton, or Jeff Baxter and Gary Hoey perhaps.

    You can't fool me, man - great Jazz musicians and great Jazz fans have no use for musically limited, pathetic poseurs like Rock guitarists!

    Yes, we're a snobby bunch (and proud of it!) Snobbier even than those silly Prog-Rock elitists!

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  5. That's a pretty cool story. And there are times for listening to all kinds of music. I get on my jazz kicks, country binges, and rock outings between all of my classical listening. Variety is good.

    Tossing It Out

  6. Stephen T-don't forget, many of those rock guitarists paid the bills for my uncles!

    Lee- Oddly, I still mostly turn to rock, although within rock there is certainly variety.

    Don't let McCarthy fool you, either. He talks a good game about all this "I stopped listening to rock 30 years ago" stuff, but I saw him at the mall wearing a "Lady GaGa" tee shirt.


  7. >> . . . I saw him at the mall wearing a "Lady GaGa" tee shirt.

    Thems fightin' words!

    I NEVER hang out at the mall like some pimply-faced teenager cruisin' for the "Night Moves".

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  8. However, I DID buy a Doors album today. But that doesn't count as "Rock music", right?

    That's more like Venice Beach on a mixture of Acid, Gin, and Electric Organ, ain't it?

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'