Emily Bezar

Is it Jazz, Fusion, Fusion, Cabaret or Modern Opera? Emily Bezar’s dazzling music is a challenge to convention. Although her intricate songs are full of jazz harmony and vocal precision, they also have pop structure and burn with the intensity rock. They are true and honest, filled with passion, elegance and conflict, and they are full of order, conflict, and conflict. Although she has performed music by Sondheim, Weill, Joni Mitchell, Gershwin, and Ravel, she is most comfortable in the sound world that she creates around herself — an alchemic and magical blend of all these influences. Emily was born in California and learned classical piano when she was a child. She grew up enjoying the beach and soaking in everything from Streisand, Earth Wind and Fire, Weather Report, and The Clash. She discovered an electric organ in her friend’s basement as a teenager and began developing her rhapsodic keyboard style with the help of a Beatles book. After studying opera at Oberlin Conservatory, she fell in love with the underground electronic music studios. After Oberlin, she returned to California to continue her experiments at Stanford University’s computer music center. She produced a piece that was awarded the Bourges Electronic music competition. In her 20s, she spent two years in Zurich, Switzerland. It was there that she started to set up her own studio and create the songs that would unify her diverse musical influences. She joined The Potato Eaters, an art-rock group that was renowned in San Francisco. Soon she found herself on the city’s most prestigious stages. Although The Potato Eaters released an EP, “I Thought You Heard You”, and a live album, “Wreckless”, Emily would not release her first solo album, “Grandmother’s Tea Leaves” until 1993. GTL was her unrestrained reaction to years of academic music research and the astringent aesthetic of much post-WWII classic composition. It was more like a collection lyrical arias or tone-poems, than a song album. This earned her comparisons with Keith Jarrett and Kate Bush. Emily wanted to amplify the rhythms in her songs so she formed a band in 1996 to record “Moon in Grenadine”. MiG, a song cycle about marriage, permanence, was part chamber-jazz and part rock-opera, interspersed with some her most delicate solo piano-vocal tracks. Stereophile Magazine named it one of their 1997 “Records to Die for” and one critic called it “an album that takes the listener into an exquisite world of pure sonic beauty.” After the birth of her first child in 1999, she reassembled her group to record “Four Walls Bending”, her most rock-infused album. She fused jazz fusion, progressive music, and electronic sounds to create soaring melodies in front of an array of churning instruments and intricate keyboard parts. Lyrically, FWB explores her identity as a mother and the strong urge to protect her precious creation. It was praised by Downbeat Magazine as “textured, haunting music-rock” which “beautifully combines elements of jazz, pop, and new music.” Her fourth album, “Angels’ Abacus”, was her most ambitious and operatic work. It was recorded while Emily lived in France between 2001-2003. This album is music as architecture. It’s music that reflects the beauty of crystalline objects, and has no agenda other than its own complex, sensual and beautiful nature. Her vocals are vivid and emotional, but she has a gentle, elegant reserve. She glides and leaps across a landscape of electronic nuance and sparkling, jazz-tinted piano. Her songs are dynamic and never slow down, ranging from delicate to intense, open simplicity to opaque density, but still bursting with melody. “Angels’Abacus” is a meditation about love and faith, in all their joys and in all their doubts. She imagines her lover in an angelic conference discussing her fate. This is not about redemption and renewal. It’s about wondering whether there is someone watching you from up there, and how you can cling onto the next rung. It’s about conscience, the gravity of decisions in life and love wondering if every action negates the previous or adds up? My inner struggle between reason and intuition has always consumed me. It’s an interesting paradox that an agent or faith, an angel, would be calculating the destiny of our souls.” 2008’s “Exchange”, her fifth self-produced album, is uncategorizable and emotionally compelling music. This is her most daring exploration to date. If this is a jazz vocal album then her musical references are elusive and moving targets. They suggest as much early 70s electric fusion like tin-pan alley. It is difficult to determine if this is a classical vocal recording. If it’s Art-Rock, you will need to make room on the shelf between Hatfield, the North, and Kate Bush’s early albums. But that’s not the best spot. This massive, 72-minute, 10-song collection is easy to see the progression of her other albums throughout. Bezar’s sparkling horn arrangements for “Heavy Air”, and “Climb,” recall the jazziness of Moon in Grenadine 1996, but are now enhanced with sophisticated arrangements that have more depth and color. Her most confident venture into classical song-form since Grandmother’s Tea Leaves is the nocturnal monodrama, “Winter Moon”. “Saturn’s Return”, and “That Dynamite” both are powerful and dynamic prog-fusion arias. They have all the drama and weight of Four Walls Bending’s critically acclaimed album, which established her as an unmistakable but recognizable presence on the contemporary progressive rock stage. The liquid, psychedelic centerpiece, “Strange Man”, is perhaps the best link to Angels’ Abacus’ ambient electronic music. It grooves and transforms into an alien-landscape outro. This is a unique experience that Emily has never experienced before. She sounds excited to discover a new dimension. Emily released “Fooled By Yesterday” in November 2011. It was her first album that featured her interpretations of classic jazz and classical music. Emily also presents electronic improvisations and piano for the first-time, which is a part of her musical personality she has kept secret until now. This is her first release available only as a download and it also includes an essay on her creative process, “Muses of a Mesolmbiac”. from http://www.emilybezar.com

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