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2018-06-21

7:30PM

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"She is an accomplished scat improviser who exudes an engaging blend of confidence and cheer."

-Stephen Holden, New York Times

Sara Gazarek Quartet

Since 2002, vocalist Sara Gazarek and pianist Josh Nelson have nurtured an uncommonly strong musical bond. It's no mere happenstance that Nelson has played on all of Gazarek's four albums as a leader to date, and Gazarek has sung on two of Nelson's. But over the past 18 months, this Los Angeles-based pair has taken their collaboration to a new level, touring extensively and developing an extraordinary repertoire as a duo. They recorded their new duo album Dream in the Blue (funded through pledgemusic.com) at the end of that process, letting the music ripen beautifully on the road. Along the way they won praise from esteemed critic Don Heckman for "the far-reaching, irresistible musical quality of their performance." They are, according to Dan Bilawksy of All About Jazz, "one of the best modern day piano-voice matches in action."

"I remember feeling so incredibly comfortable with Josh that I held on tight and never looked back," says Gazarek, recalling their very first far-from-glamorous gig in LA. "We've spent the last decade and more writing together, arranging, recording, making silly videos, and essentially growing up together, personally and musically." Nelson, in addition to citing his close rapport with Gazarek, sees Dream in the Blue as "also a nice snapshot of our musical tastes in general -- decidedly welcoming and accessible for a wide variety of audiences. Sara's tastes can be called `adventuresome' or `fearless' perhaps, but she's very grounded and there's a warm familiarity she puts out into the world that I've always really dug. This album has a nice balance of both."

Dream in the Blue sees release at a time when Gazarek is emerging from tough personal challenges: her mother was in a near-fatal car accident in 2014, and she recently went through the dissolution of her 10-year marriage. "I realized the fragility of the gift of life," she says, "and the importance of vulnerability and gratitude in our most precious relationships. Naturally the songs took on a searching heaviness that I hadn't explored before."

Over the years, Gazarek and Nelson have learned "to breathe together and anticipate where we'll go, but react with joy and flexibility when we find each other in new terrain," Gazarek says. "There's so much freedom in the trust that we share -- I know at any given moment, Josh will push me but also support me in a way I can't imagine experiencing with anyone else." Those inspired and telepathic moments are many on Dream in the Blue, an album that exemplifies the art of the duo at its best.

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