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  • Jonathan Widran


On the bandcamp page for As I Sing, the latest album by Radha Thomas, one of India’s most widely recognized jazz vocalists, there’s a blurb for her new label Subcontinental Records that reads: “India’s first experimental music label featuring Aural Sonic resurgence from all over the world.” It’s an interesting match between label and artist, because the Bangaluru based singer – a multi-faceted creative expressive who lived for years in NYC at one point – isn’t truly experimental in the traditional sense of the world.

The idea of pairing a classic-styled jazz vocalist with a single guitarist isn’t new, as Thomas herself acknowledges when she speaks of one of this exquisite and tasteful album’s inspirations, the dual work of Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass. Yet there’s something sweetly fresh and magically original about the magic that emerges when Thomas pairs her hushed, intimate, pin drop gentle voice, keen and playful sense of phrasing and affable swingability with the intuitive firepower of four different veteran jazz guitarists.

Like a lot of incredible projects that emerged from the unique circumstances of the pandemic era, the concept for As I Sing came about during lockdown, when the singer discovered the Ireal Pro app, which helps musicians practice with a virtual band. She got in touch with guitarists from different regions, and – not quite “just like that,” but definitely driven by remote digital transfer capabilities – Thomas was recording splendidly arranged duets with Reg Schwager, Pete McCann, Paul Meyers and Tom Dempsey. (Please refer to the bandcamp page - for their extensive credits).

Schwager’s numbers include an offbeat, clever extra wordplay filled “Summertime,” a jaunty “Autumn Leaves,” a charming “It Can Happen To You,” a cool and snappy “Daahoud,” and the lighthearted, uber-romantic “Jitterbug Waltz.” McCann brings his gentle strains to the dreamy, breezy “I Fall In Love Too Easily,” the whimsical “Social Call” and Artie Shaw’s seductive “Moon Ray.” These are complemented by one track each with Meyers (a hushed and reverent take on “I Remember Clifford”) and Dempsey (a spritely spin through “Just Friends.”     


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