Jan Randall

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Jan Randall
Jan Randall
Jan Randall
Background information
Born (1952-07-26) July 26, 1952 (age 69)
Occupation(s)Composer, singer-songwriter
InstrumentsPiano, guitar
Years active1967–present

Jan Randall is a Canadian musician. Self taught as a young child, he started playing professionally in bands while still in high school, and after receiving formal classical and jazz training as a composer and arranger went on to an extensive career in original music for broadcast and improvisational music for comedy theatre. He currently teaches music history at the University of Victoria,[1] while continuing to unleash his music creativity via Vista Heights Music [2] for publishing his classical piano works, and song recordings as an Independent Recording Artist.[3]

Composer/Song Writer[edit]

Good Fair World (2008) was his first solo recording project which was followed with a world promotional tour that included LA, Memphis, New York, London, Berlin and Rome.[4] His latest release of original songs, Wait in Line is distributed exclusively in digital format to Apple Music, SoundCloud and Spotify(2020).[5]

From 2011 to 2017 Jan composed and performed over 60 original comedy songs for CBC Radio's The Irrelevant Show featuring a number of singers including Jocelyn Ahlf and Martin Murphy.[6] 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,[7] Loreena McKennitt, Johnny Cash, Justin Timberlake, Patsy Cline, Morrisey, Cher, and Prince.

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, Isobel Ralston, and Alexandra Munn.[8] 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.[9] In 2016 Jan Randall and Ina Dykstra started Vista Heights Music, a sheet music publishing company featuring their original piano solos. As of 2020, they have nine books out which they distribute nationally through Debra Wanless Music[10] and Long and McQuade. They also sell directly by way of their website, vistaheightsmusic.com [11]


Currently Jan Randall is fronting the blues band Rhythm Train [12] in Victoria with the blues legend Jack Lavin Powder Blues Band and drummer Ross Hall. Jan's first professional band Manna was the coming together of three rival high school bands to play original roots based songs. The act was the first to be managed and recorded by Holger Peterson of Stony Plain Records in 1970 on the compilation album "The Acme Sausage Company."[13] Several months after graduation they joined a tour of "Excepts from "Jesus Christ Superstar" that included performing two of their original songs with local symphony orchestras.This included Cobo Hall with the Detroit Symphony for an estimated audience of 12000 people.[14]

Since then he has performed as a sideman with Bo Diddley,[15] Otis Rush, Amos Garrett, Gaye Delorme,[16] 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.[17]

Film Scores and Broadcast[edit]

In 1985 he built a recording studio,[18] 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 [19] for the NFB production "Lost Over Burma" [20] 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.[21]

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)[22] which won a sterling award for Outstanding Fringe Experience.[23] 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.

Musical Director/Comedy Improvisor[edit]

Jan Randall has been music director, pianist, song composer and musical improvisor for many theatrical comedy troupes.

His work in comedy began in the 1980s in Edmonton, Toronto, and Santa Monica collaborating with The Second City.[24] 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.[25] 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.[25]

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.

Music Teacher[edit]

In 2014 Jan began to teach music history at the University of Victoria and has offered courses in Blues, Jazz, Boogie Woogie Piano, Classical Music, as well as in depth exploration of the careers of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald.[26]

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.

In 1992, Randall donated a large collection of audio tapes that had come into his possession out 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.[27]

Jan Randall's community volunteer work includes serving as treasurer for the Inglewood Community League from 1993 to 1994, and as treasurer for the Strathcona Housing Coop from 2008 to 2009. He also served on the board of the Guild of Canadian Film Composers from 2002 to 2009. He is a lifetime member of the American Federation of Musicians, and has been a board member of Local 247 in Victoria since 2016.

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. They have been living in Victoria BC since 2015.


  • Good Fair World (2008)[1]
  • Wait in Line (2020)[2]

Television soundtracks[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Continuing Studies @Uvic" https://continuingstudies.uvic.ca/instructor/118642
  2. ^ "Vista Heights Music" https://www.vistaheightsmusic.com
  3. ^ "Wait in Line (album)2021" https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PL3kgzypbVOs4KXlCY1jjEQxkoxs--0gDf
  4. ^ "CD Baby Music Store". store.cdbaby.com. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Jan Randall on Apple Music". Apple Music. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  6. ^ "CBC" http://www.cbc.ca/irrelevantshow/performers/[dead link]
  7. ^ "The Irrelevant Show: Song: Joni Mitchell Boxing Day | CBC Radio". CBC. February 25, 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  8. ^ The Edmonton Journal June 20, 2015 Paula Simons "With the Edmonton Bach Project, a local legend gives voice to her dream project"
  9. ^ "Eventful: See Calendar of Events & Shows | AUDACY". www.audacy.com.
  10. ^ "Contact – Debra Wanless Music".
  11. ^ vistaheightsmusic.com
  12. ^ "Rhythm Train at the Loft". Victoria Events.
  13. ^ Edmonton Magazine Nov 1986 "Music First, Money Second"
  14. ^ Edmonton Journal May 14, 1981 "Detroit Gives Local Rock Cast Ovation"
  15. ^ The Gateway March 26, 1991 Paul Charest "Bo Knows Diddlin' Makes Music" Edmonton
  16. ^ The Edmonton Journal Jan. 16 1986 "Gaye Delorme"
  17. ^ "» Edmonton's Jan Randall Releases CD Jazz Elements: jazz & blues music blog with news, reviews, concerts & more, with a Canadian focus".
  18. ^ The Edmonton Journal Nov. 18, 1992 Duncan Thorne "Jan Randall" D8
  19. ^ The Edmonton Sunday Sun, April 26, 1998, Steve Tilley, "Six Degrees of Separation" p. 53
  20. ^ Garth Pritchard, Christopher Plummer, Lost Over Burma, NFB, 1998 film
  21. ^ Red Deer Advocate Nov.27, 2008 "Songwriters expose souls at The Matchbox"
  22. ^ The Edmonton Journal, Aug 13, 1992, Rosa Jackson, "Theatre On Ice"
  23. ^ The Edmonton Journal June 29, 1993 Liz Nicholls "Phoenix Theatre Sweeps the Sterling Awards"
  24. ^ The Edmonton Journal Nov. 3 1989 Alan Kellogg "Slow Lane is Where It's At"
  25. ^ a b "History - The Second City".
  26. ^ "Jan Randall". Continuing Studies at UVic.
  27. ^ Archives Canada, Sundown Recorders Archived 2013-10-29 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 2012-09-18.

External links[edit]