Critique: "On 4th Street" (CD)

Dheepa Chari

Genre(s): Vocal Jazz
URL: http://dheepachari.com

When Dheepa Chari sings, there is a sense that everything is alright with the world.

Although music can be broken down to its various parts, each component meticulously analyzed, it doesn’t change the fact that, for many listeners, its primary function is to provide escapism. Through Chari’s dulcet croon, that imaginary paradise is found.

In many ways, Chari recalls Sade. They are both exotic beauties with a soft, soulful voice, cool as ice yet radiating warmth; it’s a delicate balance that borders on contradiction. The main difference is that Sade has a rich British accent which stood out amidst the Whitney Houston high-note divas of the ‘80s. But Chari shares Sade’s subtle touch. Chari never shouts, never aims for unnecessary high notes; she is a smooth operator herself, seducing ears with lovingly crafted melodies.

On “My One and Only Love,” Chari gives a sweet, breezy performance that echoes the liveliness of Marc Gaston’s piano playing. Together they harmonize like the spring air. This is vocal jazz at its most emotionally uplifting; it’s hard to listen to “My One and Only Love” without smiling, without feeling the invigorating massage of the sun on your back.

“Summertime” is appropriately giddy, Fabio Serafini’s tumbling drums catching the wild energy of hip-hop. “Peel Me a Grape” hints at funk but Chari, who is classically trained, offers the gyrating rhythms deeply felt passion; her voice pours down like honey. The slower, highly romantic “Angel Eyes” is a work of nearly blinding gorgeousness. Chari’s sultry singing is absolutely breathtaking here as Gaston’s late-night piano helps turn the song into a candlelit love affair.

At only five tracks, “On 4th Street” provides merely a glimpse of Chari’s unmistakable talent; however, it’s more fulfilling than a number of recent whole albums.

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Leslie Connors