by Susan Frances, Yahoo! Contributor Network
On a mission to revive the heyday of jazz from the 1920’s and ’30s, Sasha’s Bloc is a project inspired by its leader bassist Alex Gershman who made the recording in memory of his parents. The music is a synthesis of American blues, ballroom dance, and silky torch songs. Comprised of a gaggle of Russian and American musicians, Sasha’s Bloc make their debut with their self-released recordingMelancholy.
Produced by Joe Diblasi, the band sinks into the jazz culture with the Charleston tailored rhythm of “Joke” and the lounging mood of “Rancho State of Mind” reminiscent of the big band era during the days of early radio when ensembles led by bandleaders like Paul Whitman and Benny Goodman could be heard daily. Each track is an original number composed by Sasha’s Bloc and illustrating its own identity. The songs resonate a splendor reflective of the early days of jazz made popular by the nightlife cultivated in metropolitan clubs, stage shows, and Hollywood films.
Sasha’s Bloc has a zesty big band zing in “Universal Swing” and harks a torchlight glow in “Someone Real” as vocalist Carina Cooper emanates a bluesy bourbon luster in her register. Her voice soars luminously and hugs the lyrics with an emotive embrace resounding a passionate chime that makes the songs jump out at the listener inducing an intimacy between the band and their audience.
The dancehall gusto of “I’m So in Love” has a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers glaze as glittery horns brush across the melody. The relaxing atmospherics of “Let’s Dance Together” is cast in soft swaying phrases as Cooper’s vocals inject a robust sonorous into the melodic fabric. The ragtime raptures dotting the title track permeate a New Orleans tint with a riverboat feel, and the flexing strings of Mark Cargill’s violin in “Rancho State of Mind” clamps a leisurely strut into the track. The uplifting gait and sunny texture of “Paradise” pillow Cooper’s vocals in plush vibrations reminiscent of the jazz culture that made an imprint on mainstream music through the 1920’s and ’30s.
Sasha’s Bloc revives music steep in the past and makes the melodies relevant for contemporary audiences. A synthesis of swinging blues, rapturous ragtime, and ballroom dance, Melancholy is uplifting and sunny from track to track
Alex Gershman – bass, Sergey Chipenko – piano, Herman Jackson – piano, Brandon Fields – saxophones, Bob McChesney – trombone, Nahum Zdybel – guitar, Mark Cargill – violin, Kevin Winard – drums, Lenny Castro – percussion, Blake Martin – trumpet, Erik Hughes – trombone, Michael Czaja – saxophones, Carina Cooper – vocals, Maxayn Lewis – vocals, Will Wheaton – vocals, AJ Adam Jackson – vocals
I’m So in Love, Let’s Dance Together, Melancholy, Playful Blues, Rancho State of Mind, Joke, Paradise, Universal Swing, Someone Real