Sandy Asirvatham | Memoir

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Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock Jazz: Crossover Jazz Moods: Type: Vocal
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by Sandy Asirvatham

Sophisticated, evocative lyrics and addictive melodies played over warm, progressive jazz/rock grooves. Literate, memorable music for grown-ups.
Genre: Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Friday Night With the Elephant Man
4:45 $1.00
2. The Harsh Logic of My Buddhist Buddy
3:46 $1.00
3. What Have You
5:10 $1.00
4. Memoir
5:05 $1.00
5. Your Silence
2:45 $1.00
6. Under Water
4:20 $1.00
7. Home With You
3:32 $1.00
8. The Winter Sun
3:01 $1.00
9. (Sometimes I Feel Like A) Motherless Child
4:16 $1.00
10. Inch Worm
3:51 $1.00
11. Sleep
4:11 $1.00
12. Smile
3:56 $1.00
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"When it comes to crossing invisible musical boundaries, Sandy Asirvatham is an innovator." ~ Michael Buckley, The Capitol (Annapolis)


"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.


"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?..."



to write a review

Farah Chandu

wonderful job!!!
Beautiful voice and wonderful tunes. Great job!

John Book, Music For America

A voice in jazz waiting to be heard by the masses
Had Sandy Asirvatham had her way, she would have been on the Today Show talking about the novels she has written in her career. But a writing block caused her to turn to music, which she had done to pass the time, only to discover what she calls her true calling.

Memoir (JazzGrrl Music) is a new chapter in her life, and her debut album. She plays a nice, loungy-style of coffeehouse jazz where the warmth and feeling of her lyrics and voice are immediate, with little to no time for interpretation. When you do stop and look at her lyrics, you'll find she is someone whose music is open for a bit of deciphering:

Don't look for shelter from the skies
or put much faith in cleric lies
it's best to stick with what we know
that you will still reap what you sow

Everybody pays a price
for everything they do
everywhere they go
every day
(from "The Harsh Logic Of My Buddhist Buddy")

Teach me to sleep
teach me to sleep
cadle me down
into my deep

The world spins out
dark echoes appear
my skin won't cool
what keeps me pinned
just lying here?

Teach me to sleep...
(from "Sleep")

Her love of writing also comes clear in the title track, where it is written as if it was from a novel, where she hints at somehow the fantasy can often be better than the reality. As Asirvatham states in her bio, her music may be no more than "little five-minute fictions that rhyme", but they are effective and you want to keep hearing these and new stories. I do like how sometimes she will sing a chorus to where it may sound off-key, but as you listen for the duration she makes it back, backed by her piano and group (which for this recording includes Amy Shook, Dani Cortaza, Chris Kennedy, Jim McFalls, and Tom Williams.

Comparisons? Listen and come up with your own conclusions, and with luck you'll make it on track and realize she is her own voice.


Beautiful work!
A delightful collection of quirky tunes filled with soul and humor. Definitely a great buy.

Seth Kibel

An astonishing debut recording!
This album is truly a revelation. Those of us in the Baltimore area who have been privileged to hear Sandy Asirvatham perform (perhaps at the Billie Holiday competition) already know that she is a top tier jazz pianist, and an expressive vocalist, with a warm and rich alto vocal instrument. But it turns out that in addition to all of these other talents, she's a truly gifted songwriter and composer. These twelve tunes showcase a new and exciting voice on our musical landscape. Defying convention, defying genre, these beautifully orchestrated jazz/folk/cocktail compositions, matched with poetic, insightful lyrics result in an album that you will want to listen to again and again and again...