Championed by some of music’s most celebrated figures, Sara Gazarek has emerged as a strikingly original artist with limitless potential. In follow up to Yours, her widely hailed 2005 debut focusing on American Songbook standards, the 25-year-old Gazarek delivers a sensational follow-up on her sophomore album Return to You, seamlessly combining the intimacy of singer/songwriter stylings with the musical and improvisational elements of jazz. Blessed with a gorgeous, translucent voice, excellent pitch, and supple sense of time, Gazarek is steeped in the jazz tradition, but is not afraid to embrace the music that moves her generation.
Return to You was created by the same talented team that put together Yours (including Grammy®-award nominated bass master John Clayton as producer, and her equally youthful, all-star LA based band, Josh Nelson (p), Erik Kertes (b), and Matt Slocum (d)). Return to You features well-planned arrangements of more contemporary standards by songwriters Leonard Cohen, Paul McCartney, Joni Mitchell, Harry Connick Jr., and Gillian Welch. Some of the best material, however, comes from Gazarek’s acclaimed pianist, Josh Nelson, as he displays his considerable gifts as a composer and lyricist with four new songs.
In choosing the material for Return to You, Gazarek explains, “our live performances are very different from the record. We do a lot more up-tempo and swinging material. But we felt secure in the base we’d created with Yours and wanted to explore some of our other influences. We wanted this album to have a flow, and a sense of purpose, and we feel the listener will be able to pick up on the part of our souls we gave to this album.” Among the album’s stand out tracks are a playful version of Mitchell’s “Carey,” and a haunting rendition of Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” with an obscure final chorus that has rarely been recorded. Gazarek’s knack for spotting first-rate material shines brightest on “Northern Lights,” a ravishing song written by the brilliant tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake – a collaboration so poignant and engaging that no one should be surprised if the tune ends up spearheading a Norah Jones-like breakthrough.