Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sara Gazarek at Jardine's

Apologies to Erin Bode and Megan Birdsall. Sara Gazarek is the best new jazz vocalist I've encountered in the last five years.

The Los Angeles-based artist's second set last night at Jardine's was breathtaking.

It's a shame Gazarek played to a nearly empty room. By my count, I was one of 19 people who paid the $15 cover. And that's only if the handful of prominent Kansas City musicians in attendance weren't comped.

The lack of an audience is especially disappointing because it's difficult to imagine anyone who wouldn't appreciate Gazarek's exquisite taste and seemingly perfect pitch. She combines old-school talent with a fresh sensibility.

Her upper register evokes a less strident Joni Mitchell. And when she hits lower notes, Gazarek resembles Karen Carpenter. Don't laugh. While Gazarek's talent could withstand direct comparisons to Sarah Vaughan, Nancy Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald, Gazarek is completely contemporary.

She covered Mitchell's "Carey" (here's Joni's version) and Billy Joel last night (just like this).

Gazarek was backed by her regular pianist Josh Nelson. The reliably excellent Bob Bowman and Tommy Ruskin provided sympathetic support.

The small audience aside, the only disappointment was that the second set lasted only an hour. I could have listened to Gazarek sing all night.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)


kcmeesha said...

I always feel sorry for performers who have to sing for an empty audience or, for that matter, bloggers (me) who don't get any comments. Wouldn't they be better off doing something like buy-one-get-one-free or whatever. 30 bucks per couple + food and drinks is not too expensive (we paid that much for crappy fork and screen) but people jump when they see value, even if it's just perceived. why don't they do a promo with your site, like $$ off for your readers. you'll get to meet your readers and buy them drinks(me), jardine's gets customers, performer gets an audience- everyone wins.

Happy In Bag said...

Both Jardine's and Sara Gazarek do reasonably good jobs promoting themselves.

It's frustrating because the substantial subset of people who like both Norah Jones and Olive Garden (no offense intended to Gazarek or to the chef at Jardine's) would have been thrilled to have been present last night.

Yet the word "jazz" acts as anathema to those very same people.

Your thoughts, Meesha, are highly valued, but the last thing I want is for Plastic Sax to become a co-opted vehicle for artists and venues.

This site is valuable, I think, precisely because it stands as a rare independent voice in the Kansas City jazz scene.)

kcmeesha said...

I disagree. When we have a blogger meet-up, it doesn't mean that we are suddenly a promoter for a certain restaurant. You could be an entry guide for many people who don't like jazz because someone told them it sucks. Maybe some people need this initial push. Maybe they will feel more comfortable having a familiar face around. I am just saying. I don't think it will infringe on your independence at all.

Anonymous said...

HiB, you always seem to make the shows I wanted to but could or did not, like this one and Solange the other day. Ferinstance, this Wed., I want to see both Hank III and Raphael Saddiq, but my wife is going out of town, and I can't leave my kids alone all night ... Can you cover them for me?

Happy In Bag said...


You wanna join me for Jucifer at The Record Bar Tuesday night?

I'm not kidding. As a bonus, I'll tell you my Hank III story.

Anonymous said...

There's another example: On Tuesday nights, I've been meaning to get over to BB's and catch TUF ... A 50-year-old man can only do so much! On the other hand, this gives the lie to the complaint you hear often: There's nothing to do in this town. On the contrary, there's a lot more than I can do ... I am afraid, however, that the younger folks who should be stepping up to take my place as live music goers are not ...

Happy In Bag said...

You're right, Rick.

I think less of someone who says there's nothing to do in Kansas City.

New York City may have fifty attractive things for me to do on any given night versus the five things that interest me in KC, but realistically I can only make it to one or two events anyway.

And access and parking at B.B.'s and The Record Bar, to use this example, couldn't be easier.

I love this town.

Ryan Ross said...

It is a shame when such talent goes unrecognized.

On another note, I waffle back and forth almost daily on who holds the number 1 spot on my CD player - Sara Gazarek or Erin Bode.