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Jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek honors her Roosevelt High roots in the KNKX studios

Six musicians pose for a photo in a studio surrounded by microphones, a piano and drums.
Michael Goude
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Jonathan Pinson, Stu Mindeman, Sara Gazarek, Alex Boneham, Lenard Simpson and Scott Brown.

Making her fifth visit to the KNKX studios, singer Sara Gazarek shared her beautiful voice, her fantastic band, and her charming personality. The Roosevelt High School graduate was back home for two nights at Dimitriou's Jazz Alley, and invited her former high school band leader Scott Brown to join in on trombone.

The dynamic ensemble also featured saxophonist Lenard Simpson, with Stu Mindeman at the piano, Alex Boneham on bass and Jonathan Pinson drumming. Brown and Simpson were both featured on a powerful arrangement of the old Sarah Vaughan favorite "Vanity", but Gazarek let her trio show their talents on the other two songs.

Host Abe Beeson spoke with Gazarek about her ability to be completely, comfortably herself on stage. She also spoke about the importance of connecting with an audience, and how she kept herself busy during the past two years without live shows.

Sara Gazarek also paid tribute to Brown, who she says instilled her with a passion for jazz at a young age. She reminded us that the recently retired, multiple-award-winning band leader has created a generation of jazz lovers and more than his share of professional musicians making great contributions to the artform.

Gazarek is on the top of that list. Her band's version of the Dolly Parton classic "Jolene" was energized by Pinson's drums, and stylish new arrangements of two jazz standards will have you eagerly anticipating her next album. Gazarek also reminds us that the debut album from the vocal quartet säje is expected in the Fall.

Abe grew up in Western Washington, a 3rd generation Seattle/Tacoma kid. It was as a student at Pacific Lutheran University that Abe landed his first job at KNKX, editing and producing audio for news stories. It was a Christmas Day shift no one else wanted that gave Abe his first on-air experience which led to overnights, then Saturday afternoons, and started hosting Evening Jazz in 1998.