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CD REVIEW: Sundar - What A Dream I Had
By Dan Cohen - 06/07/2010 - 02:42 PM EDT

Artist: Band: Sundar
Album: What A Dream I Had
Genre: Acoustic jazz
Sounds Like: Mel Torme, Tony Bennett
Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Best Songs: I Thought About You, Waltz for Debbie,
CD Review: Sundar and his band sound great, and his standard take on standards like I Thought About You and The Way I Feel felt fresh and unmannered. Waltz for Debbie, a classic instrumental that you don't often hear with lyrics, was an interesting choice, as were the more folky tunes. He takes Gordon Lightfoot's The Way I Feel, a very simple tune with very evocative lyrics, and gives it a jazz gloss that let lyric and music shine. Likewise his take on Paul Simon's 'For Emily...' is unique and quite wonderful.

It's an interesting, professional, clearly heartfelt album from Canadian/Indian Sundar Viswanathan. Sundar's a professor at York University in Toronto, he knows what he's doing, and he's got alot of very accomplished players aiding him in this love letter to the American Songbook. It's a pleasant album, and you might want these guys for your wedding or function. But it lacks much originality in it's approach to the tunes. And when you sing Dedicated to You in a slow, languorous arrangement,...I don't know. I just found myself thinking of Johnny Hartman's classic version, and wondering why we needed this one. His voice is pleasant and warm but lacks variety, and the adoration he clearly feels for the melodies gets in the way of his taking them to heart, giving each lyric a personal touch. It's all very serious, so they have a tendency to run together. Especially the brazilian tunes, on which his painfully inauthentic accent quashed a sweet and sultry arrangement. Ah, love is blind. But not deaf! Do them in new English translations, perhaps, or...

I'd love to hear a few instrumentals and/or originals mixed in.  His flute and sax playing, both alto and soprano, is superlative throughout.

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