Sunday, September 19, 2010

SCOT-FREE

Jazz Vocalist Sachal VasandaniI caught your performance at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café last night. I set next to the owner Gretchen Carhartt-Valade. I jotted down notes on a notepad, and nursed a cranberry juice with lime on the rocks. I wanted to experience you live. In 2007, I purchased your debut album “Eye’s Wide Open”. I liked your voice right away, but I had mixed feelings about the album. None of the songs fit your voice. I heard the album established you. Sachal, before I comment on your performance last night, I want to share some of your background and career highlights.

The vocalist grew up in Chicago. His folks had eclectic taste in music. Sachal gravitated to jazz. He attended the University of Michigan. In 1999, Down Beat magazine named him the Collegiate Jazz Vocalist of the Year. He was a semi-finalist in the 2004 Thelonious Monk Institute Competition. Two years later, Mack Avenue Records signed him, and the following year, the company released his debut “Eyes Wide Open”.

Sachal, last night, before the last set began I chatted with several people who were upset because drummer Kendrick Scott was a no-show. I got the impression they were more interested in hearing the drummer. The Dirty Dog's bartender explained that Scott stayed in New York. I figured the drummer had a better offer. Scott is a powerful drummer, but your performance was successful without him. Maybe leaving Scott out the lineup was smart. You had a proficient support staff bassist David Wong and pianist Jeb Patton. Patton--a disciple of Sir Roland Hanna and a chartered member of the Heath Brother's (Jimmy and Percy) outfit--fingers melted on the piano keys like butter. Wong has a strong work ethic, knowing when to pour it on and when to hold back. The Dirty Dog Jazz Café’ is a swanky place in the upscale suburb of Grosse Pointe, MI. Some of the people who frequent the café are conservative and proper. You are probably more accustomed to performing for a looser audience.

I appreciated how you mixed things up, performing music from your new album “We Move” as well as material written by Cole Porter and Thelonious Monk. Your voice is built for ballads. Your phrasing is akin to Frank Sinatra and Mel Torme. It’s neat how you lower you voice to a whisper midway through ballads. You kept the scatting to a minimum. Sometimes it’s annoying when vocalists scat more than they sing. You know how to balance the two. At times, the crowd was inattentive, but you stayed composed. You never resorted to any shenanigans to get their juices flowing. You put on a respectable show.
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