|1 Who Will
Buy? (Bart) 5:30
2 You Go To My Head (Coots/Gillespie) 3:27
3 Goodbye (Jenkins) 3:43
4 Quiet Nights (Jobim) 3:42
5 What Is This Thing Called Love? (Porter) 3:27
6 Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry (Styne) 3:49
7 Detour Ahead (Carter/Ellis/Frigo) 5:06
8 I'm Beginning To See The Light (Ellington/Hodges) 2:47
9 Sophisticated Lady (Ellington) 3:56
10 I'll Get By (Ahlert/Turk) 2:21
11 If You Could See Me Now (Dameron) 3:15
12 April In Paris (Duke) 3:17
13 The Song Is You (Kern) 3:39
All arrangements by Chris Byars, except
(vocals), Chris Byars (tenor sax, flute, clarinet), Gary Pribek (alto sax,
flute), Mark Lopeman (baritone sax, clarinet), Richie Vitale (trumpet, flugelhorn),
John Mosca (trombone), Sacha Perry (piano), Neal Miner (bass), Andy Watson
Taking a frustrating spin around the radio dial today, one might well ask: what has happened to the art of the jazz singer? For years now, it seems the jazz category has been the object of a hostile takeover by the music conglomerates, who fill the airwaves with a steady stream of overproduced easy listening music from a succession of pop and cabaret singers, conveniently recast to fit the stereotype of the jazz singer. But the resulting music rings hollow to our ears, lacking the depth, conviction, and finesse of the real thing.
Enter Sasha Dobson. As the daughter of two of the San Francisco Bay area's
most notable jazz musicians, the late pianist Smith Dobson and singer
Gail Dobson, Sasha has understood jazz as a way of life since day one.
As a consequence, she doesn't just sing; she can really play.
Like her idols Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, Sasha Dobson holds the simplicity, clarity and depth needed to master humanity’s first instrument. She forms her original stamp from both the rich historical essence of her stylistic ancestors and from her own 20-year tenure on the microphone. A rare bird indeed, a species worth your study.
For these sessions, I thought to construct a dialogue between Dobson’s flowing, ringing tone and the instrumental chorus of the Octet. There’s a good deal of call and response, some straight backdrop (band plays tableau-style under the vocal), and perhaps most exciting to the jazz listener is when we trot our vocalist out as a competent and inspiring solo improviser. Just listen to What Is This Thing Called Love? She tells her story without missing a beat, a chord, or a phrase, and spins a solo that horn players should learn.
On Who Will Buy, I based the arrangement on a sketch recording of Smith Dobson (Sasha’s father), a mainstay of the California jazz scene for decades prior to his untimely passing in 2001. Deprived of actually meeting the man, I learned much about his originality and passionate commitment to music through this tape. He stormed through the whole song, playing and singing everything without missing a beat, quite a technical show. There was a lot of music inside this guy.
Detour Ahead also harks back to the Dobson family. Gail Dobson recorded a brilliant duet version (Smith accompanies on piano) that makes the walls of your soul vibrate sympathetically. To recreate this feeling with our much larger band, the drums take a rest and the band plays rubato. The middle section of our arrangement pays homage, with pianist Sacha Perry masterfully cradling the next generation’s vocals.
Also, take note of Sasha’s stint “in the horn section” toward the end of Quiet Nights. After Richie Vitale’s reflective chorus, the Thrush slips into the lead voice of a soft horn section of woodwinds and muted trombone. It’s one of her favorite moments on the disc.
So, congratulations on getting to know this sensational jazz vocalist. I look forward to watching her flourish in the coming years. This early offering is a sign of good things to come.
This record is dedicated to the memory of Smith Dobson.