Monday, May 16, 2011


Over the weekend, I Dig Jazz received a stack of upcoming jazz releases. Some were worthwhile, and other were not. As a courtesy to I Dig Jazz reader's here is a sneak peek at three jazz albums from that stack you should purchase when they are released to the public. 

Jazz singer Sachal Vasandani has the goods. Vasandani is handsome, cool, dapper. And Vasandani is also one of the best male jazz singers around. How good is Vasandani? As good of a singer you could produce by mixing Frank Sinatra’s DNA with Mel Torme’s. On June 21, Mack Avenue Records release, Vasandani’s third album HI-Fly. HI-Fly will catapults Vasandani into the international spotlight. Vasandani also gives listeners a sampling of his songwriting skills. Of the 12 songs on HI-Fly, Vasandani only wrote three, but  they are the most memorable on the album. Vasandani hired his idol, jazz vocalese great John Hendricks, to play a few tracks.

At 92, big band leader, Gerald Wilson is still composing sweet big band music. Wilson is one of Mack Avenue Record’s best selling artist, and Wilson’s debut for MAR, New York New Sound, was nominated for a Grammy in 2003. On June 21, Wilson’s fourth date for MAR, Legacy, will be available. Legacy is a ballad heavy album with a lovely suite Wilson composed as a salute to Chicago, one of Wilson’s favorite cities. Wilson’s orchestra is star-studded. Pianist Rene’ Rosnes, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Lewis Nash make big contributions. Wilson's orchestra would be incomplete without his Mack Avenue brothers saxophonist Ron Blake and trumpeter Sean Jones.

Off the top of your head name some legendary Detroit jazz piano players. I will wager a month’s salary that piano player Sir Roland Hanna's name did not come up, which is a damn shame. Hanna was one of the jazz world’s unsung greats and a consummate craftsman.  For a while, Hanna worked in the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, and Hanna gigged frequently with tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. For those who enjoyed Hanna playing, but may have forgotten about him, IPO Recordings, Inc. makes available, August 1st, an excellent album of Hanna playing solo piano amply title Colors from a Giant’s Kit. Hanna serves up ballads, ragtime, and blues with amazing aplomb. Many solo piano albums sound like practice sessions, but not Hanna's album. Hanna sounds as if he's playing for an appreciative audience.Colors from a Giant’s Kit will put Hanna back on your jazz radar..
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