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Sachal Vasandani: Seeking Solace

Chicago-bred jazz crooner Sachal Vasandani examines   the horror of Japan's recent tsunami by studying it from eye level.
Courtesy of the artist
Chicago-bred jazz crooner Sachal Vasandani examines the horror of Japan's recent tsunami by studying it from eye level.

Historic catastrophes inspire potent emotions, so it's no surprise that they can lead musicians to create powerful works. Such is the case with "Flood," the emotional centerpiece of Sachal Vasandani's third disc, Hi-Fly. Here, the Chicago-bred jazz crooner touches on the March 11 tsunami that devastated the coastline of northern Japan and Pakistan. While millions worldwide watched video footage of the shocking destruction, Vasandani brings the horror closer to home by placing himself in the shoes of a grieving eyewitness.

Jeb Patton underscores Vasandani's resigned voice with pensive piano chords, as the singer recounts a tsunami victim's inability to save a drowning loved one. "And everybody watched as she gave up that day / Too scared to do something and be washed away," Vasandani sings amid Kendrick Scott's symphonic drumming and David Wong's weighty bass lines. Ambrose Akinmusire's plangent trumpet cries mirror Vasandani's sorrow, while he seeks solace by noting, "Love is fleeting / Some lose it, but they find it again." His quest seems to fail him in the end, though, as his powerful baritone erupts with gale force: "The only love I've ever found is lost in all that rain."

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John Murph
John Murph writes about music and culture and works as a web producer for BETJazz.com. He also contributes regularly to The Washington Post Express, JazzTimes, Down Beat, and JazzWise magazines.