Alto saxophonist/clarinetist Randy McKean is carrying on the tradition of those performer/composers who have revitalized creative music from the inside out, drawing upon its rich history of ideas to produce his own unique forms of expression. Taking sax heroes Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Eric Dolphy and Ornette Coleman as initial reference points, McKean’s music draws upon methods of distillation and synthesis pioneered by composers such as Anthony Braxton and Iannis Xenakis in order to fashion an individualized but systematically coherent musical world. Not only music but a multitude of sources inform McKean’s work: the abstract expressionist films of Stan Brakhage and the paintings of Mark Rothko, the multi-tiered writings of Julio Cortazar, Alain Robbe-Grillet and Philip K. Dick, concepts from chaos theory and modern physics, all have influenced his use of form and representation. Motivic and transformational devices such as “articulation zones,” “ghost tones” and “rhythm molds” are at work in McKean’s music, which includes compositions for symphony orchestra, woodwind quintet, string quartet, and saxophone quartet.
McKean leads or co-leads several bands, including the chamber jazz quartet Bristle, the African-trance ensemble Tumble, the saxophone quartet Goggle, and the acoustic-electronics duo The Gargantius Effect. He is a long-time member of Beaucoup Chapeaux, Ludi Hinrichs’ Chickenbonz, and appears regularly with the Jon Girton Trio, Lolo Gervais, the Earles of Newtown, and singer/songwriter Sands Hall. McKean’s releases include the CDs Wild Horsey Ride, Tumble’s Music for Trio, Bristle’s Future(s) Now(s) (Queen Bee) and Bulletproof (Edgetone), So Dig This Big Crux (Rastascan), the Great Circle Saxophone Quartet’s Child King Dictator Fool (New World), and the electronic release Gargantius Effect +1+2+3 (w/Han-earl Park, Gino Robair & Scott Looney). He studied with trumpeter Paul Smoker and composers Anthony Braxton, David Rosenboom, and Maggi Payne. He has lived and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City, and he and his family have called Grass Valley home since 2002. His radio show The Outpost aired on Nevada City’s KVMR from 2007 to 2012.