Hailed as “the next important jazz singer” (Don Heckman, LA Times), Sara Gazarek recently recorded Blossom & Bee, her debut for the Palmetto label. Blessed with a beautiful, translucent voice, Gazarek is a strikingly original artist who continues to blur the line between innovation and emotional integrity. For her new project, she is joined by her all-star LA-based trio (Josh Nelson, p; Hamilton Price, b; Zach Harmon, d) with guest appearances from guitarist-singer John Pizzarelli and the project’s producer Larry Goldings on organ, piano, and melodica.
With Blossom & Bee, Sara’s first recording in five years, the group seamlessly combines fan favorites alongside refreshing new material, and original compositions by Gazarek, Nelson and Goldings. Sara reflects, “a common thread woven through a lot of this material is the subtlety, yet unwavering musicianship of Blossom Dearie’s music. For years, we’ve added songs from her book to our shows, trying to breathe a similar air of humor and sophistication that she brought.” The up-tempo and exciting standard “Everything I’ve Got” opens up the set, followed by the title track, “Blossom & Bee,” bringing Sara and Pizzarelli together in a lightly swinging original love story about two opposites creating the perfect balance. “Fly Away Birdie,” the album’s second original, speaks about the importance of trusting ones own instincts. The bands fresh take on Ben Folds’ “The Luckiest,” is included as a loving tribute to Sara’s husband, and is a complete contrast to the obscure standard “Down With Love,” a humorous, odd metered and aggressive arrangement about giving up on love all together.
The next few performances showcase how Sara Gazarek and her trio effortlessly bring new life to older material, without losing sight of the original integrity. “Lucky To Be Me” and “Tea For Two” are both transformed by utilizing shifting time signatures and harmonic structures. “I’m Old Fashioned” is one of the bands most watched YouTube favorites, and “So This Is Love,” is a joyful re-vamp of an audience favorite. “The Lies Of Handsome Men,” a heartbreaking rubato ballad, showcases the intimate connection between Gazarek and pianist Josh Nelson. Goldings, Pizzarelli, and Gazarek swing hard and strong on the Sophie Tucker hit “Some Of These Days,” before Blossom & Bee concludes with a heavy and fierce “Unpack Your Adjectives” which Blossom Dearie performed years ago on Schoolhouse Rock. “We didn’t make a tribute record,” Sara concludes. “But we wouldn’t deny her influence and how much of this record was inspired by her legacy.”
Blossom & Bee is just the latest accomplishment in a career that is already filled with milestones. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Sara discovered her love of jazz at Roosevelt High School under music director, Scott Brown. As a senior, she was invited to compete alongside the big band at the Essentially Ellington Competition at Avery Fisher Hall in NYC, resulting in her winning the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation Outstanding Vocal Soloist Award. She moved to Los Angeles in 2000 to attend the Thornton School of Music at USC, where she formed an important and lasting mentorship with Grammy Award-winning bassist John Clayton. In 2003 Sara won the Downbeat Award for Best Collegiate Jazz Vocalist, which led to joining the Concord Jazz Festival tour, performing alongside Karrin Allyson, Diane Schuur and Oleta Adams.
In 2005, Sara Gazarek released her highly acclaimed debut album, Yours, to rave reviews and many national and international “best of” lists. Produced by Clayton, and featuring her stellar young band, Yours focused on their interpretation of the Great American Songbook. Their follow-up album, Return To You, found Sara interpreting more contemporary standards from the likes of Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Harry Connick, Jr. and Joni Mitchell. Sara is currently an adjunct professor of Jazz Studies at the Thornton School of Music at USC.
With the release of Blossom & Bee, Sara Gazarek takes her place as one of jazz’s top singers.