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Album Review

Many critics have lamented the relatively rare appearance of memorable male jazz vocalists over a stretch of several decades. Sachal Vasandani is a promising singer gifted with a wide range and an expressive, strong tone that brings out the essence of each lyric. His third CD finds him backed by pianist Jeb Patton (whose work with the Heath Brothers has garnered considerable praise), bassist David Wong, and drummer Kendrick Scott. The imaginative arrangement of the standard "The Very Thought of You" is a group effort with a strong assist from Erik Privert, utilizing a breezy Latin rhythm and featuring a potent backing line by guest John Ellis on tenor sax. Two duets feature the legendary vocalist Jon Hendricks: a hilarious rendition of "One Mint Julip," which also has some fun-filled scat singing by both men, and Randy Weston's "Hi-Fly," which adds a newly written lyric by Vasandani. The leader's rich voice is best on display with his thoughtful interpretation of "Here Comes the Honey Man" (a duet with Patton), which segues directly into "There's a Boat That's Leaving Soon for New York" (both pieces are from George Gershwin's Porgy and Bess), the latter in which Vasandani's vocal sounds as if it has long been part of his repertoire. The singer also penned several originals, including the hip "Babe's Blues" (featuring the rising young trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire) and the haunting, deliberate ballad "Flood." There's an obvious hint of Frank Sinatra in his moving performance of "All the Way," a duet with Patton that closes the album with a flourish.

Customer Reviews

Hi-Fly flies high

Amid a collection of talented young jazz singers (Gretchen Parlato, Becca Stevens), Sachal Vasandani seems to be the most successful reaching backwards and forwards at the same time. Vasandani's a lover and a student of the American songbook. I love the reworking of "The Very Thought of You," which manages to be highly intricate without losing the sentimentality of the lyric. That's a tribute to both Vasandani and his band (Jeb Patton, Dave Wong, Kendrick Scott). World class soloists John Ellis and Ambrose Akinmusire pepper in some great solos and textures throughout the record. Vasandani's ballad singing is in strong form on various tracks, such as on "I See Your Face Before Me" and "Here Comes the Honey Man." He's an artist capable of great subtlety, but at other times he'll flaunt machismo, swing, and the power of his voice. Those who have seen enough of his live performances also know that he's a highly capable improviser, though he doesn't often take solos on record. He lets it rip a bit in a very fun vocal duet with elder statesman Jon Hendricks on "One Mint Julep."

Vasandani is a musician's singer capable of pushing his band with sophisticated compositions, arrangements, and contexts. Some of his excellent songs include the heart-wrenching "Flood" from this album, "Royal Eyes" from We Move, and "Send 'Em Up to Heaven" from Eyes Wide Open. He has also written dozens of other compositions which can be heard at his live shows. He and his band manage the new songs and the traditional material with great fluidity. On one tune, they sound modern and fresh, and on the next they epitomize the jazz tradition, never sounding stale or dated.

The singing is just great, but it's never just about the singing with Vasandani. We're talking about an immensely talented young artist, who, surrounding himself with some of the great jazz instrumentalists of his generation, is making some of the best music in jazz today.

Great album

Really love this new album--soulful tribute to some jazz classics!

Biography

Born: Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Singer/songwriter Sachal Vasandani, aka. Sachal, is a distinctive vocalist with a pleasant, flexible, and understated style. Influenced by the subtleties of Shirley Horn, Sachal's early albums showcased his love of jazz standards, and occasionally found him employing scat phrasing, and vocalese. Never easily classified, Sachal eventually...
Full Bio
Hi-Fly, Sachal Vasandani
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