There’s a standard for Jazz clubs that is eternally etched in our minds. It’s a relaxed, alluring, intimate space that allows us to sit close enough to feel the notes that radiate from instruments and vocals alike. The Jazz musicians who grace these rare venues offer performances that leave us feeling lucky to be at the right place at the right time.
Though Mexico City has many hidden live-music gems, none embodies the quintessential Jazz club metaphor better than Zinco. Bank turned nightclub, Zinco is located in the city’s historical center and is dripping with “cool”. The minute I walked in, I knew it was special. And haunted. Very haunted.
On my first visit to this amazing spot, I was fortunate enough to watch a two sets from Sachal Vasandani; a 25 year old crooner with a burgeoning satin-tongue and a calming presence. A very smooth cat. Honestly I knew little of his career, but when I read that the Grammy-Winning Producer John Clayton produced his latest album “Hi-Fly” I knew I had to check this guy out.
Inside, red velvet curtains sprawled across the entire length of a long wall. This was no simple interior design element; Zinco was definitely making a statement. Just in front of the curtain sat a pianist, a bassist and a drummer. Just in front of these cats stood Sachal the vocalist and songwriter.
Two 45 minute sets were filled with playful heartfelt standards and original music. This young talent capably summoned the legendary spirit of Jazz, wearing Sinatra and flirting with Fitzgerald. Sachal had the crowd completely under his control.
After the show, I caught up with Sachal as he was signing CDs and charming the ladies… and some of the men too.
Citizen LA: Not that Wisdom is measured in years, but you seem pretty young.
Sachal Vasandani: Thankfully I’ve been very fortunate. Opportunities have been presented. And people look after me in a positive way. I’m just happy to be here.
Citizen LA: So how did you get to Mexico?
Sachal: They brought me in for a special performance last night and tonight… and… well things just happen with a happy coincidence. This is my very first time in this country, and I’m loving every minute of it.
Citizen LA: You unveiled a new piece tonight which was written during your time in traffic. I think people here in Mexico City spend more time in traffic than doing anything else.
Sachal: The traffic is very intense, though it did give me enough time to write a good song. But it has nothing to do with stoplights or bad drivers.
Citizen LA:Your sound is a bit straight-ahead, a bit scat, showered in standards. Who are your influences?
Sachal: Ella Fitzgerald, Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing, Frank Sinatra, Anita O’Day, Billie Holiday. I also spend a lot of time listening to what’s current. I feel like I was born and raised with Jazz in the traditional sense and now I’m open to what the world has to offer.
Citizen LA: How do you fit into this world? Do you consider yourself a song-writer or a musician or a poet?
Sachal: It’s not so much how I see myself, but what I create. I’m inspired by the poetry of Baudelaire. I’m inspired by a Paul Simon song. I’m inspired by the great musicians I shared the stage with tonight. So all that stuff comes out in my own ethos. In the way I interpret the word. Sometimes it’s whatever the cat just played on the piano. It all comes through me. I’m like a sieve.
Citizen LA: On stage you were completely in the moment. But more than being comfortable, you were so there. It seems the place could be on fire, and you’d STILL be singing.
Sachal: That’s a great compliment. I’ll take it.
Citizen LA: You choose to perform in a focused and calm manner. Yet you are inspired by horrific traffic that results in a beautiful song.
Sachal: Ha! It’s true.
Citizen LA: But HOW does it come to you. As a phrase? A note? A melody? A feeling?
Sachal: Inspiration comes from all sources. I just try to be ready for it. So I can retaining it and turn it into something meaningful over time. Inspiration comes quick. It comes fast. It comes like a bullet. If you’re not watching, you may miss it completely. I try and remain ready with the tools to turn inspiration into a real song.
Citizen LA: I’m’ sure that you feel lucky to be in the position that you’re in; to receive inspiration and share it with others. Tonight everybody out there in the audience appreciated you. Thank you for a great night.
Sachal: Thank you. Very much.
Citizen LA: So what makes you tick?
Sachal: Enjoying the moment. Enjoying experiences that are both good and bad, and making music out of them. Mundane, inspirational, crappy, beautiful… turning that into music. That’s the challenge.