From piano lessons as a little girl in Brazil, to composing for her jazz quartet in Denver, Carmen Sandim has found in music her lifetime adventure and purpose.
Over the past few decades Carmen’s eclectic musical aesthetics have drawn her in many directions: classical piano studies, jazz composition and performance, film scoring, and a long-lasting commitment to improvised music pedagogy.
Through her diverse journey, the unifying thread has been the search for a sound that is unique and honestly expressive.
Some notable ventures in her journey include experiences as a student at Berklee, where she enjoyed the guidance of world class musicians and educators such as Luciana Souza, Vuk Kulenovich, Hal Crook, Ed Tomasi, among others. After graduating, she moved to Washington, D.C., finding employment as a composer for radio, television, and political ads. She won several Addy Awards for compositional excellence, ran her own music production company, JAM – JustAddMusic, and had her work published and released internationally by the German publisher SONOTON.
Carmen moved to Boulder, Colorado in 2005, and for the first time since leaving Brazil, felt she had found a place to call home. And embrace her new home she did – Carmen sold her music production company in DC, bought a condo, enrolled in a masters program at University of Colorado, started a piano lesson studio, and began writing music that felt expressive and meaningful to her - unrelated to selling products or political candidates. In return, Boulder offered its breathtaking natural treasures, a refreshing spiritual, health-centered culture, and exceptionally inspiring musical friendships.
Some of Carmen’s most cherished musical friendships were featured in her debut album as a bandleader. “Brand New” was released in 2011 on the Dazzle Recordings label, and produced by internationally acclaimed pianist and music community amalgamate, Art Lande. The album also featured world-renowned trumpeter and musical angel, Ron Miles. Carmen’s Brazilian-Jazz-fusion compositions were brought to life by tenor saxophonist Danny Meyer, guitarist Matt Fuller, bassist Jean-Luc Davis, and drummer Josh Moore.
For better or worse, destiny chose to synchronize Carmen’s most enthused musical years to her most fertile. Juju was born in 2013, followed by his little sister Amelie, two years later. Carmen is still only an infant in this new incarnation of herself as a mother and partner, while remaining a pianist, composer and educator. This new reality has inspired fresh melodies, harmonies, and grooves. The inherent challenges of family life have emphasized the vital importance of creating music as a means of processing joy, pain, love, and a sense of self within the surrounding world.
In 2016, Carmen won a grant from Pathways to Jazz to record her next album. Her new compositions are Brazilian influenced, jazz rooted, intricately arranged expressions of humanness. Her new quartet features Khabu Doug Young on guitar, Bill McCrossen on bass, and Dru Heller on drums.
Carmen Sandim holds a B.A. in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music, and a M.M. in Jazz Performance and Pedagogy from CU Boulder, she currently teaches at Naropa University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and University of Colorado Denver.