An intriguing ensemble founded in 2012, Sasha’s Bloc is an amalgam of varied artists, nationalities and experiences, all fueled by bassist and songwriter Alex Gershman to deliver a sound that is consistently big, boisterous, full of spirit and rich in everything that makes jazz linger as an American phenomenon. On Heart On Fire, Gershman is honored to have Grammy-nominated vocalist Jane Monheit perform on multiple tracks. Listen to audio samples, here
The group has built a name for itself in recent years via multiple sold out concerts at the key Jazz Clubs in Los Angeles, including Catalina Bar and Grill, Vibrato and Vitello’s. Gershman’s goal, via the group’s successful performances and now on Heart On Fire, is to create a signature sound for Sasha’s Bloc that he describes as “fresh, well-developed and above all lyrically progressive.” Citing Fats Waller, Scott Joplin and Duke Ellington as primary examples, Gershman comments, “My hope is that the Sasha’s Bloc will help bring these great American cultural achievements to modern life and contemporary audiences.”
The group’s core nonet is comprised of Nora Rothman, vocal; Brandon Fields, saxophone; Alex Budman, saxophone, clarinet; Kye Palmer, trumpet, Bob McChesney, trombone; Kevin Winnard, drums; Steve Cotter, guitar; Andy Langham, piano. Guest artists on the upcoming album include: Jane Monheit, vocal; Alvin Chea, vocal; Patrick Tuzzolino, vocal; Princess Fortier, vocal; Glynis Leflore vocal; Octavia Pace vocal; James Lum, banjo; Jason Fabus, accordion; Marc T. Bolin, Tuba. Gershman plays upright bass and electric bass.
Each track on the album is an Alex Gershman original, written with the goal of evoking this aforementioned, distinctive era in the evolution of jazz. Gershman collaborates with Bob McChesney on songs 1 and 10, and with Bob Garad on song 4. Music arrangements are by Elliot Deitch, with vocal arrangements by Bob Garad. The CD is produced by Joe Diblasi, with sound by Mauricio Gurrero, and package design by Yana Bannikova.
Gershman guides us through his inspirations for the varied tracks:
1. Lonely Day in Paris - Dedicated to Frank Sinatra, his style and musical feel. I wrote it because of my profound admiration of that time in the history of American Pop.
2. Feels like Jazz - Cabaret song in the style of 1920s and 30s music traditions. The girl in the club is flipping through names of the guys she’s dealt with, and after some time they all look and feel the same. However, she gets up and manages to perform, again and again.
3. Anything is Possible - Dixie style, New Orleans brass song. This song is about trusting yourself and your abilities, to achieve all the goals in life that you wish for, and making it clear that nobody has the right to stay in your way.
4. Black and Blue - This is a song I wrote originally for a musical I’ve been developing. The main character, Ruby, was harassed by three guys outside the bar where she’d just finished performing. She comes home, seeking some comfort from her friend and mentor, who sings her this song.
5. Breakfast - I think that this is my favorite tune on the CD. Also written in the tradition of the New Orleans big band sound. We added accordion to make the tango portion more authentic, and Tuba for the horn section. Life is beautiful and joyful. We just refuse to see it and enjoy every moment of living. Start with breakfast... that’s the idea!
6. Take a Chance – Highlighted by a classical swing instrumental interlude.
7. Heart on Fire - Slow ballad about passionate love, and life that is empty without somebody you care for.
8. Angel – The search for angel never stops, and it is good to keep looking.
9. Duke – Our tribute to the great Duke Ellington.
10. Sunday Blues - Classic jazz blues of 1930s style with banjo, horns and great piano and vocal parts.
11. Manhattan – Inspired by the great city.
With a big-band sound that recalls the vibe of New Orleans’ Preservation Hall Jazz Band infused with the Blues, a hint of Gypsy Jazz, contemporary jazz and swing, Sasha’s Bloc have been playing to sold out shows across Southern California for the past two+ years and have developed a loyal following across the country.
Formed in 2012 by bassist Alexander Gershman, who hails from Moscow, Sasha’s Bloc is an eclectic mix of musicians focused on the revival of the jazz culture of the 1920’s and 30’s, combined with the adaptation of modern jazz original compositions.