Sara Gazarek finds herself in the midst of a stellar artistic community brimming with brilliant young vocalists. Gazarek's first two releases certainly paid their respects to the traditions of classic vocal jazz but were an organic hybrid influenced by the more contemporary songwriters and performers of her day.
Now Gazarek takes her own eclectic if not uniquely personal musical trip "Back To The Future" by working closely with the incredible pianist/organist Larry Goldings and drawn from a slightly more expansive set of emotionally charged standards, as well as some more contemporary works and inspiring originals all brought to life with her own special artistry. As the title does suggest there is a somewhat thematic base to this release. There is an undeniable connectivity with the vibrant spirit of jazz pianist, singer, and songwriter Blossom Dearie which manifests itself like a golden thread running through a brilliant vocal tapestry for what is arguably Gazarek's finest work to date.
Gazarek's zen like less is more technique of interpreting lyrics allows her pitch, tone and phrasing to reach the somewhat more studious approach necessary to help pull this project together. Kicking things off we have the classic "Everything I've Got" featuring one of the most underrated pianists in the business in Josh Nelson. Style, elegance and deceptively subtle blues infusion have Nelson as the perfect pianist to accompany Gazarek on this tune. "Blossom & Bee" features the incomparable Larry Goldings and John Pizarelli as the trio turns old school new cool with a breezy swing that seems to linger long after the last note. "Tea For Two" has Nelson back on piano along with Gazarek's stellar L.A. group featuring bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Zach Harmon. The slight and subtle sensuous re-harmonization of this classic tune is a wondrous tweak of a time tested classic making it sound like a Gazarek original. The true test of a real artist is the ability to place your own indeliable mark on a timeless standard and make it your own without disrespecting the original or yourself. Gazarek's vocal phrasing are one of the key elements that simply knock this tune out of the park. "Some Of These Days" finds Goldings on organ and Pizzarelli on guitar for a swing infused jazz number allowing the band to stretch out and do their thing. One of the finest gems in this musical treasure chest may be the duet of Gazarek with Josh Nelson on piano doing the Blossom Dearie tune "The Lies Of Handsome Men." Captivating.
Blossom & Bee is the perfect showcase for Gazarek. Be it an odd-metered tune, swing or a ballad that comes straight from the heart, Gazarek does no wrong here. In the tightly clustered world of female vocalists each doing the same lame cover of "Skylark" or those merely interested in showing off their vocal tricks and runs with minimal soul, Gazarek is a vocal artist. The ability to connect with the listener and paint vivid imagery and bring you into her world is indeed a wonderful thing.
A flawless recording by all participants and easily one of the most impressive releases of the year across any genre.
5 Huge Stars!
Tracks: Everything I've Got; Blossom & Bee; Fly Away Birdie; The Luckiest; Down With Love; Lucky To Be Me; Tea For Two; I'm Old Fashioned; So This Is Love; The Lies Of Handsome Men; Some Of These Days; Unpack Your Adjectives.
Personnel: Sara Gazarek: voice; Josh Nelson: piano; Hamilton Price: bass; Zach Harmon: drums; John Pizzarelli: voice and guitar; Larry Goldings: piano, melodica, organ.
New EPK via You Tube!
Special Thanks To Michael Bloom of Michael Bloom Media Relations!