The New Cool: säje looks to arrange another Grammy nomination
The modern vocal quartet säje — Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick and Erin Bentlage — earned a Grammy nomination a year ago for their first original composition. "Desert Song" didn't win last March, but the women hope to be back again next year.
The säje collaboration with six-time Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton on his tune "Dusk Baby" is the latest release from the quartet's full-length album, due in the spring. Opening with a lovely solo piano melody, the vocal foursome sing romantic lyrics made more so by their flawless blending of voices. Bentlage takes the lead on the arrangement, with a wordless vocal passage worthy of extra praise.
Clayton's piano solo follows with an impassioned solo backed by the säje "wall of voices." The story changes to one of a romance at its ending, and we return to the piano trio improvising with the women singing in powerful support.
Recently, Gazarek added animator to her role in säje. Her just-released stop-motion cardboard cutout video for "Dusk Baby" is an impressively simple and indisputably charming partner to the music. Set on the water, tossing waves accompany the more animated musical passages. The ending credits, with nods to bassist Anna Butterss and drummer Christian Euman and many more behind the scenes, will have you hanging on long after the song sets in the West.
The women of säje have submitted "Dusk Baby" for a nomination in the Best Arrangement, Instrument and Vocals category. I think it's a shoo-in. You'll hear it in our three-hour mix of modern jazz on The New Cool Friday night.
The New Cool airs Fridays at 9 p.m., hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.