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Sachal: Slow Motion Miracles

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In recent years, much has been made of the steady migration of aging pop and rock stars toward jazzier pastures, with continual raids (and more than the occasional pillage) of the Great American Songbook. Significantly less attention has been paid an opposite exodus, with up-and-coming jazz vocalists-Peter Cincotti and Kat Edmonson leap immediately to mind-crossing the border into pop, soul and even country. The latest fence-hopper is Sachal Vasandani, who moves from Mack Avenue, where he delivered three superb jazz albums, to OKeh. How apt that he’s chosen this juncture to drop his surname, now billing himself as simply Sachal.

A singer with jazz smarts entering the pop milieu can often yield exquisite results, as Diana Krall so ably demonstrates on her latest, Wallflower. Sachal, too, handles himself with charm and finesse. Working with such top-flight players as pianists Taylor Eigsti and Gerald Clayton and drummer Mark Guiliana, he settles into an easy, ephemeral groove that suggests a mélange of Brian Wilson, Art Garfunkel and Marvin Gaye. These are finely polished tracks.

The trouble isn’t the performances, with shades of reggae, Brazilian, Afrobeat and electronica cleverly woven in. It’s the material. All but one of the 10 selections were written or co-written by Sachal. (The 10th is an elegant if emotionally limpid treatment of the Gladys Knight hit “Neither One of Us.”) The tunes are dreamy and sweet but disappointingly slight-never trite, but naggingly dull.

Originally Published