Down Beat - p.774 stars out of 5
-- "'Nicki's Dream,' with Sandke on straight mute, might have come from Miles Davis circa 1958; 'Little Bix' shows a similar conceptual rigor on flugelhorn."
JazzTimes - p.80
"An impossible-to-pigeonhole jazzman, Sandke covers all of his bases and more here in a lively, intimate quartet setting with guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Nicki Parrott and drummer John Riley, refreshing out of his usual big-band context."
Personnel: Randy Sandke (trumpet, flugelhorn); Nicki Parrott (vocals, bass instrument); Howard Alden (guitar); John Riley (drums).
Audio Mixer: Jim Czak.
Recording information: Nola Studios, New York, NY (01/17/2008-01/18/2008).
Randy Sandke has been admired for his work in swing settings, though the trumpeter's recent projects prior to the making of Unconventional Wisdom have explored many styles of jazz. Such is the case with this CD as well, working with guitarist Howard Alden, bassist Nicki Parrott, and drummer John Riley, with the leader doubling on fluglehorn. The bossa nova setting of pianist Bill Evans' "'Funkallero" gives it a novel swagger, while the loping, nostalgic treatment of Hoagy Carmichael's "New Orleans" suggests a stroll through the Crescent City on a clear fall day. The trumpeter's originals are of equal interest. Sandke has published a book on his novel approach to harmonies and demonstrated some of them in his compositions. "Meta Blue" is a lively, uptempo blues in which his angular trumpet line is played in unison by Alden (suggesting its evolution from the theories of Lennie Tristano), featuring potent solos all around. "Nicki's Blue"is also a meta-tune, a challenging, twisting blues which the band negotiates with finesse. "Django's Dream" is more standard fare, descended from French Impressionist Claude Debussy's "Reverie" and the subsequent pop reworking "My Reverie," though Sandke adds warm lyrics in tribute to Django Reinhardt. Alden's magical opening solo is followed by Parrott's warm vocal and a brief solo by the leader. ~ Ken Dryden