Thursday, May 31, 2012

Catching Up With Sara Gazarek The Blossom & Bee Interview!

Naturally I think most of us would like to know more about the origin of the project Blossom & Bee and does this signal a new artistic direction for you? The guest additions of Larry Goldings and John Pizzarelli with your band are great! - Can you give us the scoop on how they came to be on the disc as well?

S.G. - "I can't believe it's been almost 5 years since our last recording... We knew after our last project, Return To You (2007), that we wanted to take our time in creating a project that really encapsulated the energy, humor, and joy of our live sets. We didn't want to rush back into the studio, and I'm very grateful that we took the time that we needed in order to cultivate the vision and confidence to propel us to make Blossom & Bee. About a year ago, I knew we were absolutely ready to release another record, and I made a short list of independent jazz labels I wanted to reach out to.  The next day, I received a random, out-of-the-blue email from Pat Rustici at Palmetto (the #1 label on my list) asking me to join the tight knit community of jazz artists on their roster. I told Pat we wanted to make a record that specifically reflected what we feel in our live sets, using my LA-based band and featuring some of our most powerful arrangements. Pat was excited, and suggested Larry Goldings as a producer, which couldn't have been a more perfect fit.  Larry's musical instincts and undying dedication to the projects he associates himself with were so integral in making the project what it is. He was very hands on in the arranging process, encouraged me to write (and collaborate with some phenomenal lyricists), offered his own resources and connections to better the project -- it was actually Larry that suggested John Pizzarelli for the duet on the title track "Blossom & Bee".  This project wouldn't be what it is without his guidance and musical genius!"
You consider yourself an interpreter of songs/lyrics and the connectivity of story telling just leaps from the Blossom & Bee - How do you accomplish this? You sound as though you are singing originals while at the same time breathing a new organic pulse into some tunes that are certainly considered more standard than most. Was this project more fun or is that like asking a mom to pick out her favorite kid?

S.G. - Interpreter of lyrics:
"As a listener, I'm never really moved by vocal gymnastics, or the most perfect, beautiful voice... I am almost always drawn to those artists who make me feel something, and take me to a place that's different from where I was before they started playing/singing.  Genuinely expressing something, vs impressing the audience. So for me, focusing on the story of the lyric, and breathing life into it is my goal. And that can be literal (as in, on Some Of These Days, I'm thinking about a guy who broke up with me, and boyyyy, he'll be sorry!) or figurative (like on Tea For Two, where I am not thinking about this place to escape to and sit on someones lap, but am more channeling the essence of the story - wanting to escape the everyday, and go to a place, emotional or literal, and just be together). This way, if I'm singing and genuinely in the experience of the story, my face, hands, etc will come to life as though I'm just speaking to people, along with the pacing of the melody/lyrics, and I personally find it so much more enjoyable and rewarding! 
  breathing new life:
Once we got a review where the reviewer ragged on us for doing Cheek To Cheek, and said something to the extent of "What is a 24 year old doing performing an old song like that?? She has no business. Leave it to the older generation to talk about that kind of stuff."  It drove me absolutely insane to hear him try to say that a) young people can't express emotion, and b) young people can't identify with older concepts.  Listen, the concept in Cheek To Cheek is universal - the excitement of first contact! I felt that when I was 16, at the movies with my first high school boyfriend, our knees touched, and the world went away. All I could think was "does he know our knees are touching? Is this intentional? Does he like me back?" And THAT is what I think about when I sing that song.  Besides, If we only allow people born in the 20's/30's/40's to approach that era of music, it will die off. And it's too beautiful and valuable to let that happen. So, yes, it's important to me to sing those songs, if I find that i have something to say with them, and of course, find a way to bring my own musical influences and preferences into the arrangement. 
Project more fun?
For the first time, I think we had the confidence to really show our listeners that we do have a humorous, joyful side. With our first two projects, we were so desperate to be taken seriously, because we were so young, and on a subliminal level, probably felt we had something to prove. But now, I think we're just eager to have people know who we are as musicians, and aren't timid or apologetic about who we are as people as well.  So, yes, there is a freedom in that, so I can say without hesitation that Blossom & Bee is by far my favorite project to date."

Part 2
Part 3