Randal Clark, Imaginary World Review
By Ferell Aubre
Randal Clark is a Salt Lake City-based contemporary and concert saxophonist that excels in performing as a jazz and classical soloist. Clark has appeared at numerous jazz festivals and shows and performs regularly with the Utah Symphony Orchestra. He is also an in-demand session musician for tv, movie, video games, and more. Clark received a degree in Music Education from the University of Utah and began teaching high school band and orchestra. He has gone on to receive a Masters Degree in Music Education and a Doctorate in Instrumental Conducting with an emphasis in saxophone performance. As a music educator, he has received numerous awards, including The Utah State Office of Education “Sorensen Legacy Award” for Outstanding Music Educator, the Utah High School Activities Association award for “Outstanding High School Music Educator,” Utah Music Educator’s Association (UMEA) award for “Outstanding High School Music Educator,” and the National Band Association “Outstanding Band Educator” and “Outstanding Jazz Educator” award. Clark is joining up with Jeff Lorber, Jimmy Haslip, Randy Brecker, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Novak, Michael Thompson, Gerald Albright, Sonny Emory, David Mann, and many more to bring us a new album titled Imaginary World.
The opening song is a Jeff Lorber original called “Trailblazer.” The piece features Clark on alto saxophone, Lorber on keyboards, Gary Novak on drums, Michael Thompson on guitar, and Mike Miller on guitar. The rhythm section establishes a profoundly funky groove as Clark and Lorber play the snaking melody through a flowing set of changes. Clark plays fiery fills between melodic phrases. The song form is never simple with indictments; the band and various sections act together to propel the energy and keep the song’s theme in relation. Clark’s solo is cathartically asserted with his strong musical presence.
Lorber and bassist Jimmy Haslip teamed up to compose “Time’s Arrow.” Clark, Haslip, and Lorber are joined by Randy Brecker on trumpet and Vinnie Colaiuta on drums. Of course, this rhythm section lays down an unbelievably deep groove for both Clark and Brecker to explore their magical lines over. The melody is active, with excellent call and response sections. Upon close listening, Haslip is always just as agile as the horns and keyboard, broadening the sound even more. Clark’s playing is incredibly emotive on this selection as his saxophone soars with muscularity and musicality.
Imaginary World is a series of well-composed songs by various composers brought to life by a who’s who cast of musicians. Each ensemble can touch even the most hardened listener’s heart with their powerful groove and joyful playing. Each melody has a memorable hook, and Clark’s playing never loses focus as his vibrant sound makes the melodies shine. His solos are buoyed by masterful technique and adventurous phrases across a broad palette of styles and feels. Each song feels terrific, thanks to the courtesy of the significant rhythm sections. A great summer closer that will bring joy and make everything just a little more bearable.