Sanjaya Malakar and Chaz Lipp at North City Bistro (Photo: Sherry Lipp)
Late in Summer of 2014, backed by a hand-picked group of skilled jazz musicians, TMR contributor Chaz Lipp put his saxophone playing to good use: entertaining a crowd at Seattle's Musicquarium Lounge while collecting donations to benefit Gilda's Club Seattle. Now I'll cast aside the third-person pretentiousness; as the byline clearly shows, I'm talking about myself here. The third and final set offered a special treat: vocalist Sanjaya Malakar. You may remember him as the polarizing teen sensation who sang himself into the top ten on American Idol season six. Well aware he had matured into a soulful R&B vocalist in the years since, I correctly predicted my sax would blend beautifully with his voice.
Call it kismet. The combo felt so distinctly right, I immediately got to work booking additional gigs and a recording session at Fastback Studios in Seattle. With producer Gary Lanz behind the board, we laid down spunky takes on an album's worth of jazz standards. The magical vibe of the live shows was effectively captured in the studio and work commenced on prepping the material for release. Fast forward about a year—the project has stalled, hence the man behind the music (me) is now utilizing Kickstarter as a means to enable the completion Good Merlin.
I spoke with Malakar here on TMR last year, just before the initial benefit gig about his future plans. As evidence by audio samples presented in the Kickstarter campaign video, his voice has developed into a powerfully emotive instrument (those with lingering mixed feelings about the singer once known for his "Ponyhawk" hairdo are especially encouraged to take a listen).
Visit The Chaz Lipp Groove Tripp campaign here for more information.