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Time was when a young good looking velvet-voiced male vocalist equally proficient in the jazz and pop genres had it made. While that is certainly no longer true, Eyes Wide Open reminds why that was the case. This is no nostalgia trip however, and although there are a couple of Strayhorn and Jobim tunes, the session is, in fact, very contemporary.
Born in Chicago and now a fulltime NYC resident, Vasandani has found many cozy NYC venues that are custom-made for his persona and warm vocals. His vocal quality and phrasing is very engaging and remind a bit of pop superstar John Mayer. In fact, songs like "Naked as We Came, whose lyric provides the CD's titular inspiration, with its catchy piano, guitar breaks and relaxed mood, could be quite at home on the pop charts. The triobassist David Wong, drummer Quincy Davis and keyboardist Jeb Pattonare well acquainted with each other and do not stray far from these melodies. The guests, that include vibraphonist Stefon Harris, trumpeter Marcus Printup and guitarist Doug Wamble, provide the most frank improvisation. Harris adds touching augmentation, Printup lends his beautifully bluesy horn and Wamble seems perfectly suited for the more ostensibly pop arrangements.
Three originals also showcase writing skills that are as immediately appealing as Vasandani's voice: "Send 'Em Up to Heaven is a Latin-tinged 9/11 paean that has Harris adding an uplifting turn, "Please Mr. Oglivy is a highly personal appeal that will resonate with independent artists everywhere and "Storybook Fiction is a beautifully intimate kismet love fantasy. Stylistically, the band is the perfect match for Vasandani's arresting voice and with producer John Clayton (Diana Krall and Michael Bublé) this all comes together for a session which is most pleasing jazz/pop for the young generation.
Track Listing: Naked As We Came; Please Mr. Ogilvy; A Flower Is A Lonesome Thing; Its Only Love That Gets You Through; Storybook Fiction; Strange Things Happening; Send 'Em Up To Heaven; I Could Have Told You; I was Just One More for You; September In The Rain; I Can't Give You Anything But Love; You Won't Forget Me.
Personnel: Sachal Vasandani: vocals; Quincy Davis: drums; Jeb Patton: piano, Rhodes; David Wong: acoustic bass; Stefon Harris: vibes and marimba (2, 7, 12); Marcus Printup: trumpet (6, 8 11); Doug Wamble: guitar (1, 5, 9, 11).
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.