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Interview with Sara Gazarek

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I'm doing great! We just finished 2 sold out nights in Seattle at Jazz Alley, and last night we played a sold out show at The Vic in Santa Monica.

What's on your schedule right now?
We have a lot of Southern California dates, and we're working on some East Coast/Midwest dates to promote the new record.

"Return to You"? has just been released and first reviews are more than just positive. Did you have the feeling you were on to something special when recording the album?
I think that listeners can tell when an artist makes something from the heart, that is sincere, and a true representation of who they are. Although we all are hugely influenced by jazz, we're also all under the age of 30. We would be doing our listeners a disservice by neglecting our other influences.

You're performing a Harry Connick Jr. tune on "Return to you"?. What is it you admire about him? Was he a direct inspiration to your vocal delivery in any way?

I think Harry is a really great songwriter, arranger, bandleader, entertainer, pianist, and singer! He has a really incredible list of talents, and that song was sort of a letter to the universe, asking it to put us in his direction.  :) I'd love to work with him some day.

Your music certainly has the potential to reach people who are bored with the current music scene. Someone left a comment on your MySpace site: "I don't really care for music much. But, yours sounds pretty darn good." Is that the kind of reaction you're looking for?

You know, it's a great feeling to know that people are reacting the way that they are to our music. We work so hard on and off the stage to put it all together, so when we hear that people like it, it's very rewarding!

It has often been said that Jazz works best on stage. As you're both a recording artists and an avid perfomer, how would you rate that statement?

Our newest CD has a real vibe to it. We wanted the songs to flow in and out of each other well, so we didn't include a lot of seriously up-tempo material. We DO, however, have a wide range of things we perform in our live shows. I think jazz works great on and off stage. It just depends on the recording artist/stage performer.

On a more general level: What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What's your approach to performing on stage?
I think if I can give the audience an experience that they can walk away from and feel differently than they did when they walked in the door that I've done my job. For me, it's always about conveying a message and taking a journey on the set. If the listeners were able to jump on board the train for that journey, I am more than content.

How important for your impact would you rate the fact that this band has now been together for a whole three years?
My band has a HUGE influence on the sound of our music. We arrange all of the songs together, write a lot of the songs together, we all submit songs to do all the time. So, they impact the music more than people know.

In your opinion, what sets "Jazz"? apart from any other style of music? What does Jazz mean to you personally?
Jazz gives me the opportunity to be expressive, improvisational, and creative in a way that I may not have been the night before. I think the evolution of it (the past, where it's gone, and where it's going) is very interesting to me. It has the ability to
change, but also remain the most musically challenging forms of art out there.

What's your view on the music scene at present? Is there a crisis? What does the term "new" mean to you in connection with music?
No, I don't think there is a crisis. Good music still exists. Big time! I think people are just frustrated that the music on the radio is so produced. But, if you look beyond what is spoon fed to us, there is a whole market of beautiful, expressive, "new" compelling music. We just habe to dig.

How strictly do you separate improvising and composing?
The greats always say a composition should sound like you're improvising, and your improvising should sound like you're composing. But the truth is, we do spend a lot of time on our compositions in this group, to get them right.

You are given the position of artistic director of a festival. What would be on your program?
It would be a HUGE festival, where lots of old greats and lots of young artists would be invited to perform. I'd have the Clayton Brothers Quintet (John & Jeff Clayton, Terrel Stafford, Jeff Hamilton, and Gerald Clayton), Brad Mehldau,  Kneebody (a really great young group of progressive jazz musicians), Joshua Redman, Terence Blanchard, and for the singers... Gretchen Parlato, Lizz Wright, Roberta Gambarini, Kurt Elling, and Bobby McFerrin!!

Yours (2005) American Songbook Standards
Live at the Jazz Bakery (2006)
Return to You (2007) Native Language

Sara Gazarek
Sara Gazarek at MySpace

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