Dennis Sandole is a prodigiously influential figure in jazz history who is generally unknown; many jazz encyclopedias don't have entries for him. Best known as having been a teacher of John Coltrane (beginning in 1946), Sandole was a skilled guitarist, innovative composer and deep musical thinker.
|The Brothers Sandole, Modern Music from Philadelphia|
Sandole's only other recording as a leader looks to be a record called "Compositions and Arrangements for Guitar" (1958), also released by Fantasy, but this item appears to be fantastically obscure. Mike Callahan lists the album in an exhaustive Fantasy Album Discography, and the All Music Guide makes mention of it, but neither provide any other information. WorldCat doesn't list it, and the Library of Congress doesn't have it. I haven't checked Lord's Discography yet.
In any case, after the Fantasy releases, Sandole continued to be active as a teacher, but I cannot find any recordings on which he appears, either as a leader or as a sideman. In fact, no other recordings of Sandole were commercially available until 1999, when Cadence released a compilation of Sandole's various projects, including some extremely rare quartet recordings from 1958 with pianist Al Del Governatore, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Frank Young. The fidelity is poor, but the compositions are stunningly original, and I think earn Sandole a spot alongside Charlie Parker, George Russell, Thelonious Monk, and Lennie Tristano as a major figure in post-war jazz.
Sandole's composition "Dark Bayou" was recorded by Charlie Barnet's Orchestra in 1946. He co-wrote the breezy "High On An Open Mike" with fellow Philadelphian Charlie Ventura, who recorded the tune with his orchestra in 1949 and performed it live. And in the 1960's, his compositions were featured on albums by Art Farmer and James Moody.
Among Sandole's students were John Coltrane, Pat Martino, Jim Hall, James Moody, Benny Golson, Michael Brecker, Stanley Clarke, and Matthew Shipp. He wrote at least two books, one of which, Guitar Lore, has been published. Sandole died in September 2000.
Here are two of Sandole's compositions. I'm working on several more which I'll post in the future.
- Matthew Shipp's recollections about his studies with Sandole.
- A powerpoint presentation called "The Unique Jazz Pedagogy of Dennis Sandole" by Thomas Scott McGill, which includes scanned images of Sandole's lesson assignments.
- A blog post by a trumpeter Bart Miltenberger who studied with Sandole.