Before & After: Sachal Vasandani

IMG_0003Before & After

Sachal Vasandani

by Larry Appelbaum

 

With the release of his third recording, Hi-Fly (Mack Avenue), Sachal Vasandani continues his inevitable transition from rising star to established headliner. Like many singers of his generation, he’s studied and assimilated the past while keeping up with current developments inside and outside of jazz. For this session he gnawed on fresh fruits throughout and chose to listen to each track in its entirety before offering reactions or sharing insights. Still, he couldn’t stifle his occasional yeas and grunts of appreciation.

 

Gregory Porter

“God Bless The Child” (from Be Good, Motema). Porter, vocal. Recorded in 2011.

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Before & After: Gretchen Parlato

© Larry Appelbaum

Since capturing the 2004 Thelonious Monk Jazz Vocal Competition, Gretchen Parlato has become a favorite of critics, fans and fellow musicians. She sings standards, but not from the dog-eared pages of the American Popular Songbook. With a musician’s sensibility, she carves out idiosyncratic arrangements of jazz instrumentals, Brazilian sambas, and 1980’s pop and r&b gems. She’s also starting to write more and her song stories are as distinctive as her phrasing. It seems everyone wants to work with Parlato these days, and she’s already appeared on more than 50 recordings, including projects with Lionel Loueke, Kenny Barron, Terence Blanchard, Becca Stevens and Esperanza Spalding. Parlato’s latest recording as a leader is The Lost and Found (Obliqsound).

1. Gregory Porter

“Illusion” (from Water, Motema). Porter, vocal; Chip Crawford, piano. Recorded in 2010. Continue reading

Before & After: Kurt Elling

photo by Larry Appelbaum

Kurt Elling sat for this JazzTimes B&A one winter afternoon just before his 2004 New Year’s Eve show at the Kennedy Center. We began by listening to one of his favorite singers.

1. Mark Murphy
“Charleston Alley” (from Jazz Standards, 32 Jazz). Murphy, vocal; David Braham, piano;
Harry Leahy, guitar; Gerry Niewood, sax; Ted Curson, trumpet; Ed Caccavale, drums; Larry Killian, percussion. Recorded 1984, reissued 1998.

I love everything about the way Mark approaches all this Lambert, Hendricks & Ross stuff, and I know this recording really well. The thing about vocalese is that by its nature it has a tendency to be re-creative in a way. I mean, you’ve copped somebody’s solo or arrangement or whatever. But Mark comes on with his personality and his own musical identity so strong that it recreates a vocalese in a way that is totally Mark, and in a way that I have a real hard time imagining anybody else really accomplishing. It’s a completely unique artistic thumbprint. I mean, Jon [Hendricks] writes the grand lyric and performs with such a stately and magnificent representation of that which he’s apprehended. Then Mark comes on and he doesn’t need three people or a choir or whatever to do it–it’s just Mark and it’s totally whack, and it’s a totally new experience again. I’ve always thought that’s one of the greatest ways that Mark displays his ingenuity. Because he’s not hindered by the intricacies of somebody’s solo, and he can even recreate that and cast it in his own image.

Have you ever talked with him about this?

Mark doesn’t really take compliments very easily. You have to catch him in the right mood and be in the right place. And this [interview] is an ideal opportunity because I think he probably takes a lot more stuff in from what he reads. We’re friends and I know he’s been very generous about my thing and coming on the road with me and trusting me. It humbles me and makes me want to live up to that trust. I love talking about great singers. I hope you don’t give me any tragic ones [laughter].

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