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With 'Girl Talk,' Sasha Dobson Returns to Standards and Swing, in a New York State of Mind

Sasha Dobson
L. Arthi Krishnaswami

Singer-songwriter Sasha Dobson's latest album, Girl Talk, is an engaging return to her first love: standards and swing.

Dobson, a gifted solo artist — and, together with Norah Jones and Catherine Popper, one-third of the Americana trio Puss n Boots — first established herself on New York's jazz scene in the early 2000's. With last year's shutdown, she seized the opportunity to execute a jazz project that had been brewing for several years. Dobson says her cross-genre acumen as a songwriter has positively influenced her new work as a bandleader and improviser.

WBGO's Let Me Tell You 'Bout It w/ Sasha Dobson

"I think I have more of a balanced outlook on humanity, on myself and on music in general," Dobson says in this installment of Let Me Tell You 'Bout It. "In my early days in New York... I was so all about jazz that I didn't even have an awareness for anything outside of that. Then I went completely into the [singer-songwriter] world...and it's definitely informed and shaped the way that I present myself as a jazz musician and particularly as a soloist."

On Girl Talk, Dobson and her band are skilled and surefooted, giving a definite contour to each of the album's 10 songs. Guitarist Peter Bernstein, bassist Neal Miner and drummer Kenny Wollesen are adept at playing a consistent narrative that allows the music to breathe as well as swing. Dobson elevates and shines brightly over the carefully curated arrangements.

"Better Days" is a Dobson original written just before the last session. It expresses a groovy yearning for a positive turn of events. As a California-born vocalist who has lived in New York since 1997, Dobson found that dealing with life in the pandemic also brought forward a lesser-known standard, "The Great City," that provides the perfect forum for inventory.

Sasha Dobson with Norah Jones - GIRL TALK - Official Music Video

"Having built my career in New York, it's hard to leave this place," Dobson says. "There's a strange love-hate because I think, when I'm in California, 'This is the most beautiful place. Why don't I live here?' But it is all about living in New York, and I thought that [recording "The Great City"] would be a tribute to New York."

Sasha Dobson will celebrate the release of Girl Talk at Birdland on Oct. 25.