Sandy Sasso: Sandyland

According to Sandy Sasso’s Web site, Sandyland is a real place, a century-old farmhouse not far from the Jersey shore in the charming village of Oakhurst; an ideal setting, particularly around the cocktail hour, for settling back and appreciating the manifold delights of Sandyland. The idiosyncrasy of Sasso’s velvety huskiness, suggestive of a dry martini comprising two parts Anita O’Day and one part Julie London, has always been uniquely engaging, dating back to her big-band days with Nelson Riddle and incarnations of the Goodman and Dorsey outfits. But Sasso’s sound represents only part of her singular charm.

The rest is derived from the bracing distinctiveness of her interpretations, here extending from the effervescent bossa bounce of her “Soon It’s Gonna Rain” to her bluesy rendition of “Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day.” Rare is the vocalist who can shoehorn Gilbert and Sullivan into a jazz setting, but Sasso does so with playful seductiveness on “Things Are Seldom What They Seem.” Not to be overlooked is Sasso the laudable songwriter, whose expansive talent serves up such dichotomous nuggets as the wailing hymn “Walkin’ on Up (to Heaven’s Door)” and the joyful calypso “Up in a Swing.”