Music For America CD Review Run Off Groove Section: CD Review - Sandy Kastel 'This Time Around'

Sandy Kastel has been singing jazz for years in her hometown of Las Vegas. Her bright smile and happy attitude on the booklet photos ("legs for days, ooh la la!") might make some feel that it's just your typical, flashy, poopsy, telethon jazz that only old people want to hear. The truth of the matter is, Las Vegas has always been an escape for jazz musicians not only to relax, but to perhaps play in front of and with their peers in the same way jambands will start picking up the guitar and play without fear. There is an energy to that city that never sleeps, and that style of jazz has often rubbed off on singers, musicians, conductors, and arrangers for years. It might come as a surprise that This Time Around (Silk & Satin), her debut album, was mainly recorded in Nashville, a music town in its own right.

Away from what Las Vegas may mean to outsiders, what you do hear are songs performed by artists that moved her to become a singer, so you hear her do powerful renditions of "Fever", "Cry Me A River", "Viva Las Vegas", and "My Funny Valentine". What I generally don't like about jazz singers is when they get too flashy and show off, I understand it adds some dramatics but I've always felt it was corny. Kastel does not too any of that, but she does know how to make the song her own, as she puts her all into each word and line and makes it alive again. It's also nice to hear songs that have aged well over the years, grown-up songs, from a grown woman who can share her passion for music and singing with ease. She has the kind of voice that would be capable of performing in any style, and who knows, she may branch off into something new next year. But if it's jazz and pop standards that you love, you'll never want to stop playing this.

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