Seattle's Sara Gazarek debuts at Triple Door with dazzling new CD
Sarah Gazarek, who graduated from Seattle's Roosevelt High School, is a jazz singer based in Los Angeles. She debuts at the Triple Door Monday doing material from a dazzling first album on Palmetto, "Blossom & Bee."
Seattle Times jazz critic
Sara Gazarek8 p.m. Monday at the Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle; $20-$30 (206-838-4333 or www.thetripledoor.net).
If you search YouTube.com for "Sara sings Sophie Tucker," a 1997 video from a Roosevelt High School vaudeville revue pops up, featuring jazz singer Sara Gazarek when she was 15 years old.
Gazarek, who plays the Triple Door Monday, is twice that age now — happily married in Los Angeles, teaching at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California and recently signed to the distinguished jazz label Palmetto.
On her dazzling label debut, "Blossom & Bee," Gazarek playfully reaches back to Tucker's tune, "Some of These Days," and with the help of singer-guitarist John Pizzarelli totally nails not just the period — "you'll miss me HAW-nee ... " but airlifts a 102-year-old vaudeville tune into the present.
"My mom sent me the video," said Gazarek by telephone earlier this week. "So I was thinking ... let's make a swinging arrangement and give myself a second chance!" Local jazz fans have been betting on Gazarek's chances ever since she sang with the award-winning Roosevelt High School Jazz Band. Through a lot of hard work — and patience — she's proved them right. The years have brought seasoning, focus and relaxed confidence to her work.
Before Palmetto invited her into the fold, Gazarek hadn't made an album in five years. The new one aims to capture what she's been doing live.
"When people asked, 'Which recording has "Tea for Two?" we knew it was time to go back into the studio," she said.
That's one of the best tracks on the album, with a snappy arrangement in 7/4 time that feels like it's skipping a beat, but also sounds absolutely natural. And fun.
Naturalness and humor are hallmarks of Gazarek's approach. They are qualities she picked up, in part, from the late cult favorite Blossom Dearie, whose name is referenced in Gazarek's title song and whose versions of many of the songs on the album — "The Lies of Handsome Men," for example — inspired Gazarek to sing them.
"Blossom Dearie was someone I identified with," she said. "My music is not super gymnastic, it's just about the delivery of the lyric."
Fifteen years after she threw a feather boa over her shoulder and belted out Sophie Tucker, Gazarek is still delivering.
Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org