Sara Gazarek: Yours

Sara Gazarek image 0
Greg Henry

Sara Gazarek

Reimagining the fade-to-black melancholy of Cole Porter’s “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” as a tenderly uplifting samba may seem an unusual move; but, like pretty much everything contained within 23-year-old Sara Gazarek’s debut disc, it works. Porter’s lyric centers around a crumbling relationship’s slow descent “from major to minor.” Conversely, Yours signals the arrival of a significant new vocal talent who, if the gods above truly are in the know, should rapidly ascend from minor to major.

Guided by the seasoned hands of producer John Clayton and engineer Al Schmitt, Gazarek emulates the cool interpretive intelligence of teacher and mentor Tierney Sutton throughout an eclectic, 11-track set that ranges from the sweet, cyclical embrace of Joni Mitchell’s “The Circle Game” to the inky, obsessive depths of “All or Nothing at All.” Two compositions by pianist Joshua Nelson-the gorgeously romantic (and decidedly Vince Guaraldi-like) title track and expectant “Amazing”-show him to be not only a clever lyricist but shrewdly skilled at custom-fitting material to Gazarek’s vocal shape and style. Most intriguing, though, is the Gazarek original “You Got By” that likens a difficult breakup to a disaster of A-bomb cataclysm, cowritten with bassist Erik Kertes, with whom she was once romantically involved.