"When it comes to crossing invisible musical boundaries, Sandy Asirvatham is an innovator." ~ Michael Buckley, The Capitol (Annapolis)
JOHN LEWIS OF BALTIMORE MAGAZINE (July 2007) WROTE:
"A former City Paper columnist, Asirvatham abandoned a novel-in-progress to focus on composing and performing her own music. Although Asirvatham is an award-winning writer, it’s hard to argue with that decision when considering the merits of her debut disc. Over the course of a dozen songs, she walks a fine line between singer/songwriter and jazz chanteuse with some Tin Pan Alley in the mix, smartly turning phrases and crafting peculiarly appealing melodies. On tunes such as “Friday Night with the Elephant Man,” “Sleep,” and the title track, she makes the most of a limited vocal range with poetic, personal lyrics richly underscored by her idiosyncratic piano playing and tasteful accompaniment by players such as drummer Frank Russo and guitarist Chris Kennedy. A lovely rendition of “(Sometimes I Feel Like a) Motherless Child” and a melancholy take on “Smile,” the classic tune written by Charlie Chaplin, dovetail nicely with the gravitas and bittersweet lure of Asirvatham’s originals."
“Sandy has written and produced some music that reflects her literary background and her musical background. This is great music. She’s created music that’s for everybody, but never ‘dumbed down,’ not even for a moment. You need this in your record collection.”
~Alex Norris, trumpet player, composer,
and Fresh Sounds recording artist
“What a terrific maiden voyage! Smart chords and lyrics met by perfect solos...Beautiful...Some work is made by artists because they MUST create it.”
~Claire Daly, baritone saxophonist, four-time Downbeat Critics' Poll award winner
“Sandy has made an impressive debut with MEMOIR. Her piano playing is very pleasing and together with her supportive ensemble, the music is beautiful. The voice is clear and truthful...the songs are lyrically fresh and inventive. I say BRAVA Sandy!”
~Nora York, composer, singer, multimedia performance artist
“With the abundance of female singers in the business today, it is supremely refreshing to work with a brand-new talent. I’ve known Sandy for only a few years and have been impressed with her meteoric transformation from student to professional performer.
What is most engaging for me as an instrumentalist is the surprisingly wide palette of timbres and emotional depth she brings to her music. She is a JOY to work with!”
~Jim McFalls, trombone performer and jazz educator
A 1994 graduate of Columbia University's MFA in fiction writing and a former columnist for Baltimore CityPaper, Sandy was supposed to be working on a novel when she instead got sidetracked by music. Strictly an amateur, music-reading pianist in her 20s, by her mid-30s she had become a jazz improviser good enough to go pro, as well as a fledgling composer & arranger.
Recently Sandy has put her storytelling skills in the service of original songs. Sandy's idiosyncratic melodies and lyrics suggest dark, melancholy themes, but are played and sung with a light, kinetic, quietly joyful approach. Recommended if you enjoy versatile jazz-based artists like Madeleine Peyroux and Cassandra Wilson, but also if you have a liking for the more contemplative songs of singer-songwriters like Fiona Apple, Feist, or Rufus Wainwright.
FROM THE LINER NOTES:
"I was writing a novel but kept getting stuck. Procrastinated at the piano, playing and singing old show tunes and standards—a return to childhood obsession. I got curious about jazz improvisation; then I got avid. Time passed. Piano lessons and college music courses led to jam sessions and gigs, and eventually to professional work on the local wedding/cocktail hour circuit.
"I stopped struggling with the novel and started composing songs instead—JAZZish but flavored with FOLK ROCK FUNK ACOUSTIC—little five-minute fictions that rhyme.
"Then I booked studio time and found hotshot friends to accompany my vocals/piano/synth: FRANK RUSSO drums/percussion AMY SHOOK bass/violin/viola JIM MCFALLS trombone TOM WILLIAMS trumpet/flugelhorn DANI CORTAZA acoustic guitar CHRIS KENNEDY electric guitar. With brilliant band-mates like these, who’d want to stay home and wrestle the taunting blank page?..."