may 2012


The Wonder of It All

By David McGee

Triosence with Sara Gazarek
Charleston Square Recordings

In “I Can’t Explain,” the first swinging tune (a bright workout that may have some fans thinking “Heart and Soul”) on Triosence’s evocatively packaged Where Time Stands Still album, the wonderful San Francisco-based pop-jazz singer Sara Gazarek, recruited by the German trio to sing lead and co-write the original songs for the project, exults over new-found love but struggles to define how it happened, finally leaving it to a chirpy, “Something hit me, I can’t explain.” Later, near midway through this scintillating journey, amidst the shifting textures and anxious pulse of “Like the Wind,” she’s still in wonder of it all, as she makes another run at defining what it is that’s overtaken her heart. Finally she offers a silky, sultry verbal shrug, concluding: “Is it love or is it God? It doesn’t really matter what it’s called.”

Triosence with Sara Gazarek, ‘Like the Wind,’ from Where Time Stands Still.

What a smart choice it was on Triosence’s part to add Ms. Gazarek to its lineup for this outing in which nature, spirituality and love comingle. Her voice, bright, warm and with an engaging lightness, has the absolute perfect mix of strength and vulnerability, worldliness and innocence necessary to convey the complexities—the exultation and the wariness both—of someone ready to love and be loved, even in spite of her fears about its impermanence. She wants it to be, and the message of Where Time Stands Still is that believing in love and being open to its arrival is a stand worth making, even a noble one.

saraNeedless to say, this album is not for the cynical. Ms. Gazarek’s bright-eyed reading of a lyric in “You’re My Spring” such as “Spring has come and life is turning to love/I think it could be spring forever…” brings all the hope of that sentiment to vivid life, and Triosence’s support is every bit as compelling in its emotional content, as pianist and principal composer Bernhard Schüller fashions soothing but energetic punctuation behind her and the musicians evoke the impeccable, nuanced sense of mood common to the trios of Vince Guaraldi and Bill Evans. Everybody gets into the act: bassist Ingo Sest has more than a few memorable moments in setting the tone for Ms. Gazarek’s thoughtful ruminations, one of the standouts being his rumbling opening riff that establishes a stark backdrop for the singer’s dreamy sweet nothings in “Only One Evening” ahead of Schüller’s low-key, bluesy piano backing and drummer Stephan Emig’s light touch on the brushes and cymbal; this is followed two songs later by an extended, melodic solo in “Maybe There’s a Princess Waiting,” which sets up Schüller for a delighted dash across the keys as the song’s intensity heats up until Ms. Gazarek returns to put a stirring capper on a fanciful story about a girl’s fairy tale dreams of finding true love, as the band falls away and leaves her a cappella and sotto voce, humming a soft exhalation in one of the album’s few occasions when a happy ending seems elusive.

The beautiful benediction: ‘Where Time Stands Still’: the singer contemplating not love inchoate but love fully formed, all consuming and supernatural

Throughout Where Time Stands Still, love is posited as a saving grace, even as divinely ordained. Ms. Gazarek, whose contributions as a writer were to polish up and smooth out Mr. Schüller’s German lyrics, makes certain we understand love does not bloom in a vacuum and, indeed, cannot be separated from nature’s temple. Song after song reflects on love as inseparable from the natural world, a manifestation of Providence at work among all creatures great and small, and in the sky above and the mud below. Sometimes this is expressed benignly, as when she swoons in “Morning Star," “You said, ‘you’re my morning star, the light of my day/you’re my sun and moon, guiding my way/you’re my day and night’”; other times it ascribes metaphysical wonder to a thing called love, as in “Like the Wind”’s “it’s like the wind/I can’t see it, I can’t touch it, still… I feel it’s there/when I close my eyes I feel wonder, beauty and joy and love/that’s the core of ev’rything…” and the intriguing formulation, “Is it love or it is God? It doesn’t really matter what it’s called.” (Some of us cannot hear "Like the Wind" without recalling the powerful poetry of Jerry Reed's "Thing Called Love," viz., "Can't see it with your eyes, hold it in your hands, but like the wind that covers our land, strong enough to rule the heart of any man, this thing called love...")

Triosence and Sara Gazarek, the backstory of Where Time Stands Still

Saving the best for last, the title track, elegant and sublime, on which the trio is supplemented by the contemplative, tender ache of Andria Chang’s violin, brings into play all the emotions Ms. Gazarek has plumbed thus far, on what is essentially a lullaby (the first lyrics are “Please sleep…”) whispered from one lover to another, the singer contemplating not love inchoate but love fully formed, all consuming and supernatural: “When the world and everything has gone/and we’re two distant stars/the only voices ours/at peace, in bliss, where time is standing still…” is where we wind up in this beautiful, heartfelt benediction. You may find yourself not quite believing what you’ve heard, but it’s real, very real. Share it with someone special, much as Triosence and Sara Gazarek have shared the joy with you.

Where Time Stands Still, by Triosence with Sara Gazarek, is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
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Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024