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Sara Gazarek and Josh Nelson at Jazz at Kitano

Dan Bilawsky By

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A nod to a contemporary artist—vocalist Laura Mvula—came with "Father, Father," but it was back to the splendor of the past with Ellington's "Love You Madly." "Mood Indigo" may have been tweaked quite a bit, but this Ellingtonian entry was more in line with common practice. Gazarek's only nod to Blossom & Bee came with "The Lies Of Handsome Men," which was moving on the album, but emotionally overwhelming in performance. This particular performance proved to be a tear-inducing take on that Blossom Dearie-associated number. The set came to a close with Nick Drake's "River Man," a song that everybody from pianist Brad Mehldau to vocalist Kate McGarry has recorded. The Gazarek-Nelson rendition held onto plenty of Drake-isms, but it took a detour with Gazarek's mid-song recitation of poet Sara Teasdale's "The River." The poem fit the song perfectly, the song fit the mood in the room, the room suited Gazarek and Nelson, and the audience witnessed one of the best modern day piano-voice matches in action.

Photo Credit: Dan Bilawsky

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