What do you get when you take a successful German instrumental jazz group and combine them with a Seattle-born singer with near-faultless tone and phraseology? Where Time Stands Still offers an answer. The record from Germany’s Triosence with the vocals of Sara Gazarek is a delightful demonstration of the futility of musical margins when it comes to thrashing out a legitimately divine piece of art.
Triosence features pianist and composer Bernhard Schuler, bassist Ingo Senst and drummer Stephan Emig. The band was formed in 1999 and has won several awards on Germany’s jazz landscape. Gazarek has three of her own albums as a leader and was brought to the attention of Schuler by guitarist Frank Haunschild, who coincidentally appears on Where Time Stands Still.
“I received an email from Bernhard expressing his interest in having me join them for this project,” explains Gazarek. “I didn’t take his email very seriously at first, mostly because he was in Germany and I was in Los Angeles. But I completely underestimated Bernhard’s drive and determination. After about three months of emails back and forth, it started to seem like a possibility.”
The procedure was one that bridged distance and modern technology, with the creative method behind the lyrics and music taking to telephone calls, Skype and even more emails to knock out the finer points. “I later felt it would be wise to have some of them rewritten by a native English speaker,” Schuler says of the lyrics he’d written for Where Time Stands Still.
The finished project makes great use of Gazarek’s immaculate, cheerful vocals and Triosence’s ability and meticulousness. The songs are lovingly forthright and intimate. Gazarek converses with brightness and beauty, a fair shade away from that mythically damp Seattle disposition.
On the opening piece “I Can’t Explain,” Gazarek sings in front of a charming piano bounce that is underlined by some fine guitar work. And “Morning Star,” with its inspiring posture, is lavish and luminous.
“Maybe There’s a Princess Waiting” takes things in another direction, opening with some lovely but haunting a capella. Gazarek sings of love that is “free from all the frills and flow’ry charm,” turning the Disneyfied mentality on its head with real revelations of human relationships that forge lasting lights. The piece is touched by Schuler’s serene piano flourishes.
All in all, Where Time Stands Still is an example of what can happen when two ostensibly different artistic cultures collide. The power of the passion behind the music erodes all borders and the resultant swing is hard to resist in any melodic language.