Randal Clark | Stargazer Review
by Darnell Jackson
Randal Clark is a contemporary composer, arranger, educator, and concert saxophonist in Salt Lake City. I had the privilege of reviewing Clark’s last album, Imaginary World (Read HERE), which has a cast of heavy-hitting musicians and excellent playing and composing. So, when Clark’s publicist notified me of his new album, Stargazer, I was excited to explore his latest project. Clark has compiled another beautiful group of musicians to bring Stargazer, including Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip, Randy Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak, Paul Jackson Jr., Nick Kellie, Michael Thompson, David Mann, Oliver Leiber, Scott Kinsey, and many more.
Clark opens the album with a composition written by Lorber called “Firebrand.” Bassist Jimmy Haslip and drummer Gary Novak create the funky R&B-influenced feel. The five horns and Lorber’s keyboard add fullness around Clark’s singing-toned alto saxophone. After a building interlude, Clark performs a beautiful solo. His style is energetic, controlled, and melodic. My favorite element of Clark’s style is his ability to make the alto scream joyfully, which is very impactful.
“All About It” is a fun and funky selection with energy, joy, and exceptional playing. Clark and Lorber wrote the tune together, and it is evident by this composition and the many others, both on this album and the previous one, that they share unique chemistry when working together. “All About It” has a distinct throwback to the vibrant sounds of the 1980s smooth jazz while also maintaining the modern energy of contemporary fusion. Clark’s soloing is entirely on point, with first-rate note choices and a driving rhythm.
Stargazer is another enjoyable album by Clark. Stargazer has a satisfying flow of styles and a variety of ensemble members, composers, and soloists. Combining that with Clark’s energetic playing and big warm saxophone tone creates a modern-day jazz sound that exudes a nice, laid-back vibe and makes you enjoy the music.
Label: Music of Content
Release Date: BlueHour Productions