Sara Gazarek,
Return to You
(Native Language, 2007)

On her second CD, jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek sings 13 songs by contemporary composers including Paul McCartney, Billy Joel and Gillian Welch. That is a welcome change from the older Great American Songbook, which has been consulted over and over in the recordings of many new female jazz singers.

The CD starts with "Let's Try This Again," written by Gazarek and her pianist and producer Josh Nelson. It's a breezy, upbeat number that fits the CD's base of piano, upright bass and drums. So is the jazzy arrangement of Joni Mitchell's "Carey," which fits Gazarek's high, somewhat thin voice.

Gazarek is a pleasant singer, if not especially powerful. She handles a variety of material, from the cheerful love song "I've Got a Great Idea" by Harry Connick Jr. to Leonard Cohen's pensive "Hallelujah." She is complemented here by excellent arrangements. Three of them feature the Supernova String Quartet, who bring out an ethereal quality in her voice.

This well-polished CD has received a lot of attention and could put Gazarek near the popularity of Norah Jones and Diana Krall.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Dave Howell

8 September 2007

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