Jan Randall

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Jan Randall
Jan Randall.jpg
Jan Randall
Background information
Born (1952-07-26) July 26, 1952 (age 67)
Occupation(s)Composer, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsPiano, guitar
Years active1967–present
Associated acts

Jan Randall is a Canadian composer and pianist. Randall played entirely by ear from childhood, started working in blues and pop music bands while still in high school, and after receiving formal classical and jazz training as a composer and arranger went on to spend a decade in theatre before moving on to make a career of composing sound tracks for broadcast.


In 1971 Jan passed an audition to begin music studies at the University of Alberta, graduating in 1975 with a Bachelor of Music, majoring in theory and composition. His professors there included Violet Archer, Malcolm Forsyth, Isolbel Ralston, and Alexandra Munn.[1] In 1976 he received a scholarship to attend the Banff School of Fine Arts, followed by jazz studies at Macewan University and North Texas State University.

In January 2014 he performed a classical piano concert of his original solo works at the McDougall United Church that included his "Piano Sonata No. 1" and a collection of Impromptus.[2] In 2016 Jan Randall and Ina Dykstra started Vista Heights Music, a sheet music publishing company featuring their original piano solos. By 2019, they had seven volumes out which they distribute nationally through Debra Wanless Music[3] and Long and McQuade. They also sell directly by way of their website, vistaheightsmusic.com [4]

Film scores and broadcast work[edit]

In 1985 he built a recording studio,[5] Randall's Recordings, specifically for film and television music production. The studio has garnered over 700 broadcast production credits. In 1998 he won a Rosie award for Best Composer/Musical Score [6] for the NFB production "Lost Over Burma" [7] which featured narration by Christopher Plummer. He composed music for many other documentaries for the NFB , a large body of educational programs for ACCESS, and music to underscore a decade of award-winning productions for Karvonen Films and the Discovery Channel. In 2006 Jan Randall began work as a radio host on CKUA radio with the Weekend Breakfast show which he produced until 2009.[8]

Music for stage[edit]

Commissioned works by Randall include a ballet for the National Ice Theatre of Canada, A Midsummer Night’s Ice Dream (1992)[9] which won a sterling award for Outstanding Fringe Experience.[10] Tangled Ice Webs followed in 1998, after which came Poetry in Motion (2006). He composed and produced the music for the 1996 World Figure Skating Championships, and composed and directed the music for the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Jan Randall has been music director for the annual Banff World Television Festival (1995-2007) and performed there with many stars including John Cleese, Bob Newhart, Dame Edna Everage, Martin Short, Steve Allen, and Kelsey Grammer.

Comedy songs and improvisation[edit]

Jan Randall has been music director, pianist, song composer and musical improvisor for theatrical comedy troupes. He worked in Edmonton, Toronto, and Santa Monica collaborating with The Second City.[11] His first show for them was directed by Catherine O'Hara, and he later worked with Robin Duke, Ron James, Debra McGrath, Richard Kind, Bruce Pirrie, Sandy Belkovske, and Mike Myers.[12] He also appeared on SCTV as a Turkish border guard in the scene "The Midnight Express" where Eugene Levy and Tony Rosato play Abbott and Costello smuggling hashish. While in Santa Monica, he house sat for Ryan Stiles who was recording his first "Whose Line Is It" series in England.[13]

Other comedy troupes Jan collaborated and performed with include Rapid Fire Theatre, and Theatresports. He was the founding music director for Die-Nasty in the early 1990s and appeared with them off and on at the Varscona Theatre and as part of the Edmonton International Fringe Festival for over 20 years. He also performed with them in London, England, in 2009 and played piano continuously for 50 straight hours as part of an improvisation marathon produced by The Sticking Place. He repeated this the following year at Hoxton Hall with the same group. Jan composed and performed over 60 original comedy songs for CBC Radio's The Irrelevant Show (2011–2017) featuring a number of singers including Jocelyn Ahlf and Martin Murphy.[14] Popular songs from this series include "operettas" about texting, a transcript of a child's tantrum, and Pavarotti doing his taxes. Other favourites include a Stan Rogers style tribute to Ben Mulroney, and spoofs of a wide variety of artists including Joni Mitchell,[15] Loreena McKennitt, Johnny Cash, Justin Timberlake, Patsy Cline, Morrisey, Cher, and Prince.


Jan Randall has performed live with Bo Diddley,[16] Otis Rush, Amos Garrett, Gaye Delorme,[17] Dave Babcock, Sha Na Na, Spencer Davis, Sam Lay (drummer for Paul Butterfield and Howlin' Wolf) and Gary U.S. Bonds. In 2008 he released a solo CD of original songs "Good Fair World" which he promoted in a worldwide tour of small clubs and coffee houses across Canada, the United States, and Europe.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Born in Philadelphia, his first piano teacher was his mother, Laura Randall, who played classical and jazz and taught the neighborhood children. When he was nine his family moved to Edmonton, Alberta, and they become Canadian citizens on July 1, 1967. He was mostly self- taught, but spent half a year learning how to read and write "lead sheets" with a local accordion virtuoso, Vic Lillo.

Jan Randall's community volunteer work includes serving as treasurer for the Inglewood Community League from 1993-1994, and as treasurer for the Strathcona Housing Coop from 2008-2009. He also served on the board of the Guild of Canadian Film Composers from 2002-2009.

In 2004 Jan Randall received a letter from a cousin of folk singer Arlo Guthrie that contained information revealing they all shared a great-great grandfather, Raphael Stukelman. Later that year he attended a cousins reunion in San Francisco and they all met with Arlo backstage a concert he gave there.

In 2011 Jan Randall married Ina Dykstra, a classical piano teacher and well known music festival adjudicator. Both of them have children from previous marriages who are central to their lives.

Sundown recorders[edit]

In 1992, Randall donated many audio tapes that had come into his possession of Edmonton-based Sundown Recorders, originally owned by Wes Dakus, and which existed from 1972 to 1987, to the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Included in the donated material were recordings by Hoyt Axton, Bobby Curtola, Gaye Delorme, Gary Fjellgaard, Fosterchild, and Hammersmith.[19]


  • Good Fair World (2008)[1]

Television soundtracks[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Edmonton Journal June 20, 2015 Paula Simons "With the Edmonton Bach Project, a local legend gives voice to her dream project"
  2. ^ http://edmonton.eventful.com/events/music-wednesdays-noon-produced-mcdougall-music-/E0-001-016164358-3
  3. ^ https://www.debrawanless.com/contact/
  4. ^ vistaheightsmusic.com
  5. ^ The Edmonton Journal Nov. 18, 1992 Duncan Thorne "Jan Randall" D8
  6. ^ The Edmonton Sunday Sun, April 26, 1998, Steve Tilley, "Six Degrees of Separation" p. 53
  7. ^ Garth Pritchard, Christopher Plummer, Lost Over Burma, NFB, 1998 film
  8. ^ Red Deer Advocate Nov.27, 2008 "Songwriters expose souls at The Matchbox"
  9. ^ The Edmonton Journal, Aug 13, 1992, Rosa Jackson, "Theatre On Ice"
  10. ^ The Edmonton Journal June 29, 1993 Liz Nicholls "Phoenix Theatre Sweeps the Sterling Awards"
  11. ^ The Edmonton Journal Nov. 3 1989 Alan Kellogg "Slow Lane is Where It's At"
  12. ^ History of Second City
  13. ^ History of Second City
  14. ^ "CBC" http://www.cbc.ca/irrelevantshow/performers/
  15. ^ https://www.cbc.ca/radio/irrelevantshow/the-irrelevant-show-february-26-2015-1.2968864/song-joni-mitchell-boxing-day-1.2968865
  16. ^ The Gateway March 26, 1991 Paul Charest "Bo Knows Diddlin' Makes Music" Edmonton
  17. ^ The Edmonton Journal Jan. 16 1986 "Gaye Delorme"
  18. ^ http://www.jazzelements.com/2008/10/11/edmontons-jan-randall-releases-cd/
  19. ^ Archives Canada, Sundown Recorders. Retrieved 2012-09-18.

External links[edit]