American singer Sachal Vasandani writes about his New York Band's gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club, part of an extensive tour, is on 17th February at 8:30pm:
The tour has begun. We are currently in Algeria sitting at a roadblock waiting for a police escort and watching a lot of sheep go by in packs. The policemen are laughing - possibly at us. It’s been great being on the road singing with this group despite these hilarious circumstances - they are focused and fun on stage and they bring the audiences to their feet each night. We’re playing five nights in Algeria right now and audiences have been enthusiastic and are really open to what we have to offer, which is a lot of fun.
The songs on this tour are mainly new original music, which I’ve been working on for many months and will be recording later this year. That's a fun adventure for me, as it’s different for the folks who might know me mainly for my standards singing. With this original music I get to sing lyrics that I wrote from my own experiences, with the delivery, (and as the tour goes on, the flexibility), which I put into established songs. If the melodies are strong too, I think they'll have a familiar vibe to audiences even if they haven't heard them before. I’m happy to say people are dancing to our songs. London is the last stop on our tour, so I know the music will twist and shape with the freedom and confidence that comes from playing together night after night. I'm therefore excited about the London date in particular. We are all going to enjoy wherever the music takes us.
The guys in the group are great. Jeremy Dutton is a young drummer who's recently arrived in NYC from Houston. He's got a spirit and dedication to the drums like guys that came before him from that area like Kendrick Scott and Eric Harland. Like those guys he's got a good sense of humour and that makes the hang fun too. Buster Hemphill has authority on the electric bass and has been playing my new music for a while now. He can groove and play simply as the songs demand. Ram on a leash for sure ...
Taylor Eigsti is known for his solo records and his work with Gretchen Parlato and so many others. Everyone knows how badass he is. What I like is how he finds the balance between telling a simple story and making it work in a jazz context: making the traffic move out of the way so we can get where we're going.
I've enjoyed each time I've worked in London, whether performing at clubs or festivals. A couple years ago I got to work alongside Phronesis at the Southbank Centre. We taught a handful of talented young singers about jazz singing and lyrics, through the modern lens of Phronesis's music. As much as anything else, those few days taught me how willing Londoners are to welcome new sounds and ideas. I’ve also had the great pleasure of performing in duo several times with Ian Shaw. Ian has always been great fun to work with and I’m happy to say he will be joining me for a couple of numbers on 17th. I'm always laughing on stage with him and he is very generous with me, which is a trait I admire most in musicians. Everyone can feel how strong and diverse his musicianship is, and when we improvise together it's something special. I'm always happy to welcome him on stage.
Sachal Vasandani – vocals
Taylor Eigsti – piano/keys
Buster Hemphill – bass
Jeremy Dutton – drums