Vasandani was born in Chicago and grew up in a household where all kinds of music were appreciated. His parents listened to a variety of jazz, from Duke Ellington to Keith Jarrett, which piqued his curiosity.
In pursuing his love for music at the University of Michigan, he began to be recognized as a talent of the future, most notably by DownBeat magazine, which awarded him Collegiate Jazz Vocalist of the year in 1999.
After moving to New York, Vasandani quickly became a part of the jazz scene, and made a musical home in storied clubs like the Zinc Bar.
He was also tapped for a number of guest performances and recordings, notably by the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis, Wycliffe Gordon, Eric Reed, T.S. Monk, and countless other peer and mentor musicians.
After Vasandani’s break-through debut recording, he toured extensively supporting Eyes Wide Open. He opened for such disparate artists from jazz trumpeter Chris Botti to pop singer Joan Osborne, garnering respect from a diverse spectrum of audiences. “I played in the US as well as overseas,” he says. “I played at jazz festivals as well eclectic venues, and it was humbling to see people with different backgrounds and tastes respond to what I do.”
In addition, Vasandani was mentored by the veterans of the jazz vocal realm.
He shared the stage with Jon Hendricks at a masters and mentors concert in Idaho (“Jon’s honest spirit, intellect and improvising ability are such an influence”), and toured Japan with Sheila Jordan. “Sheila serves as a mother figure to a lot of us singers,” he says. “Like Jon, Sheila sings powerfully and with so much love. To keep your voice, spirit, energy alive, night after night, for decades – what an instruction in longevity.”
Yet, while Vasandani was riding high on the success of Eyes Wide Open,
“I was hitting a low point emotionally. My relationships broke, I couldn’t really face my own problems and I lost both of my role models – my grandparents. I went to India to see them when they were hospitalized, together. Although it was a thrill to be making music, I was felt like my life was falling apart. My music and the rest of my life were moving in opposite directions, further and further apart. That’s when I started writing songs for We Move, in order to come to terms with myself, to select the right songs to understand myself better.”
On We Move, Vasandani has ample support from his trio comprising pianist Jeb Patton, bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis.
A rarity in jazz these days, Vasandani and Co. have a longevity factor working in their favor: The band has been a group since 2001.
Vasandani’s originals are among the standout tracks on We Move.
The gem of the bunch, “Every Ocean, Every Star,” features Wamble’s layered guitar textures.