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Sara Gazarek - Yours
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Sara Gazarek - Yours

31-03-2015, 20:08
Jazz | Vocal Jazz

Sara Gazarek - Yours

Artist: Sara Gazarek
Title Of Album: Yours
Year Of Release: August 23, 2005
Label: Native Language
Genre: Jazz / Vocal jazz
Quality: Mp3
Bitrate: 320kbps / 44.1kHz / Joint-Stereo
Total Time: 51:04 min
Total Size: 114 MB
Website: Amazon

01. My Shining Hour
02. Yours
03. Amazing
04. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye
05. Cheek to Cheek
06. You Got By
07. Bye Bye Blackbird / Blackbird
08. Circle Game, The
09. All or Nothing at All
10. Too Young to Go Steady
11. You Are My Sunshine

Sara Gazarek is a talented young artist on an amazing musical journey, a creative sojourn that may well help shape the future of jazz vocals. Championed by some of music's most celebrated figures, she has emerged as a strikingly original artist with limitless potential. In follow up to Yours, her widely hailed 2005 debut focusing on American Songbook standards, the 25-year-old Gazarek delivers a sensational sophomore effort with Return to You, seamlessly combining the intimacy of singer/songwriter stylings with the musical and improvisational elements of jazz. Blessed with a gorgeous, translucent voice, excellent pitch, and supple sense of time, Gazarek is steeped in the jazz tradition, but is not afraid to embrace the music that moves her generation.

Return to You features the same talented team that put together Yours (including Grammy®-award nominated bass master John Clayton as producer, and her equally youthful, all-star LA-based band, Josh Nelson (p), Erik Kertes (b), and Matt Slocum (d)). But just one look at the song selection on Return to You and the listener will plainly see the difference between the two. While her first album strongly established the groups position in the world of jazz, Return to You features well-planned arrangements of more contemporary standards by songwriters Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Harry Connick Jr., and Gillian Welch. Some of the best material, however, comes from Gazarek's acclaimed pianist, Josh Nelson, as he displays his considerable gifts as a composer and lyricist with four new songs.

In choosing the material for Return to You, Gazarek explains, “our live performances are very different from the record. We do a lot more up-tempo and swinging material. But we felt secure in the base we'd created with Yours and wanted to explore some of our other influences. We wanted this album to have a flow, and a sense of purpose, and we feel the listener will be able to pick up on the part of our souls we gave to this album.” Among the album's stand out tracks are a playful version of Mitchell's “Carey,” and a haunting rendition of Cohen's “Hallelujah,” with an obscure final chorus that has rarely been recorded. Gazarek's knack for spotting first-rate material shines brightest on “Northern Lights,” a ravishing song written by the brilliant tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake - a collaboration so poignant and engaging that no one should be surprised if the tune ends up spearheading a Norah Jones-like breakthrough.

Return to You also introduces a number of new textures and sounds, not explored before on the bands prior release. Strings, guitar, horns, and duet vocals are, as Gazarek puts it “a way to get a message across that we couldn't express as a quartet.” And while the singer could have had her pick of all-star instrumentalists to feature on her sophomore album, Gazarek, who possesses an easy-going charisma that quietly commands attention, refuses to hog the limelight. “In this band we prefer to keep it in the family, and featured some of our most talented friends,” Gazarek says, humbly, always referring to “we” rather than “I” when speaking of her music, highlighting the indispensability of her bandmates. “We truly are a family now, and they are an integral part of the way our sound has progressed.” The quartet works together in shaping arrangements, and each piece is the result of extended collaboration. She notes the importance of this collaboration, “we are constantly learning from one another.”

Born and raised in Seattle, Gazarek grew up without much exposure to jazz. She denotes any and all preliminary jazz education to her high school big band and choir director, Scott Brown. “He afforded us a lot of educational opportunities at festivals and competitions,” Gazarek remembers. As a senior in high school, she was awarded the first ever Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Outstanding Jazz Vocalist Award at the Essentially Ellington Festival in NYC. “I guess you could say my first gig was at Avery Fisher Hall with Wynton Marsalis,” Gazarek chuckles.

Sara made her way south to Los Angeles in 2000 and found herself at the prestigious Thornton School of Music at USC, studying under the tutelage of John Clayton, Shelly Berg, Tierney Sutton, and Carmen Bradford. While there, Sara helped develop the JazzReach program and, as a result, was able to spend two years working with inner city elementary school children as a jazz choir director. “I'll never forget that experience. It is so important to me to be out there, educating young people.”

In 2003, Sara was awarded the 2003 Downbeat Student Music Award for Best Collegiate Vocalist. Shortly after the publication hit the press, Sara was asked to perform with Oleta Adams, Karrin Allyson, and Diane Schuur as the “as yet undiscovered talent” on the Concord Jazz Festival Tour. Simultaneously, Gazarek joined Barry Manilow, Allyson, and Schuur as a Stiletto Entertainment (management) client and was soon being booked by the industry giant, William Morris. “I remember feeling very nervous about it all,” Sara recalls. “I'd had it drilled into me that a strong career at a young age was a fast track to obscurity.”

Luckily, at a time when it would have been easy for Gazarek to lose track of her artistic goals, John Clayton, a mentor and teacher at USC, provided a grounding influence. When record labels first came knocking and she started to panic, it was Clayton who set her straight. “He said, 'Sara, everyone has his or her own path, and there's no path that's any more respectable than any other,'” she recalls. “'As long as you do your homework and keep striving to be a better musician, you'll have a lasting career.'”

Clayton agreed to produce her first album, Yours, and insisted she develop the arrangements herself with the band she'd been performing with. She found musical soulmates in her group, and the resulting record was a debut that was released to national and international rave reviews. It ranked in the Top 10 on the Billboard Traditional Jazz Charts, Top 10 on the iTunes top Jazz Album Downloads (US, UK, Switzerland, and Belgium), #1 on the iTunes Top Jazz Album Downloads (Germany, France), #5 on the Jazz Week Radio Charts, #4 on the HMV (Japan) chart, and voted the #3 Best New Artist in the JazzTimes Readers Poll.

“We toured all over the country,” Sara recalls, “playing in all different kinds of concert halls, but hands down, our favorite part of the tour was the clinics we were able to put on.” Gazarek is the sole ambassador for non-profit music and arts education organization, Music For All. “Education is such an important part of our lives, and the band and I know we wouldn't be here if it weren't for that one teacher who showed us the way.”

With her strong sense of gratitude, this talented, graceful, constantly evolving, emotionally direct, label-pushing vocalist will continue to “do her homework.” And judging by her second album, Sara Gazarek is going to have a lot to offer the music scene for many years to come.

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