Choosing the boisterously worded Hart & Rodgers standard Everything I've Got was the perfect lead-off to Sara Gazarek's Blossom & Bee. She jumps into the song with a be-boppily clear voice and élan that does not flag and is almost laugh-out-loud humorous in its incongruity to the back alley lyrics…yet works beautifully, kinda like finding that the seductive girl next door isn't quite what she seemed to be, which only makes her all the more attractive. Then comes the duet with John Pizarelli—he interestingly taking the submissive voice, she the dominant—and the subtlety of Gazarek's approach to things becomes evident. Nonetheless, she manages to preserve everything you'd expect her to in such a collection largely of standards and much influenced by the work of Blossom Dearie. As producer-player Larry Goldings notes, Gazarek eschews fancy vocal pyrotechnics (as does her ensemble, instead preferring a well woven atmospheric sound) for richly intoned sonority. It's been five years since her last release, and Sara's been thinking about her art, here making a flawless disc.
Much of that atmosphere is accountable not just in Golding's keyboards but often in his pairing with a second set of hands on the ivories: Josh Nelson's. Still, it may be The Luckiest that most aptly demonstrates the ease with which Gazarek tackles difficult leaps of octave, tone, inflections, and meter. Try singing along if you imagine it's as easy as she makes it seem. This singer is young, confident, and has been studying non-stop since winning the Downbeat award for Outstanding Collegiate Jazz Vocalist in '03, and this particular CD should be the one that wakes the industry up to her more than ample gifts. I mean, sigh!, is it always we crits who have to sound the clarion on such things? O the humanity! Thus, be at one with we inkslingers, thou reader, and get in on the secret before it ignites a wave of astonished approval from all corners. In Blossom & Bee, we hear someone who is stepping to the fore in the pack of recent singers working to keep the difficult jazz (and blues) edge alive in its confluence with pop, the same wont that underwrote the Great American Songbook, produced the inimitable Sade Adu and others, but is struggling to redefine itself and move forward once more. To do that, it may well have to drop back and rediscover itself in discs like this.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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