Emily Bezar

Emily Bezar

BandJazzSinger/Songwriter

Emily's intricate, uncategorizable songs, draw freely from classical, jazz, rock, pop and electronic music to create an enchanting, dynamic sound world. She has been compared to Kate Bush, Frank Zappa, King Crimson and Keith Jarrett.

Biography

Do you call it Jazz, Art-rock, Fusion, Cabaret, Modern Opera? Emily Bezar’s prismatic music defies convention around every unpredictable curve. Her intricate songs are rich with jazz harmony and classical vocal precision but they flirt with pop structures and burn with the intensity of rock. They are honest and true, full of passion, elegance, conflict and order. She has sung Mozart and Ravel, Weill and Joni Mitchell, Gershwin and Sondheim, but she’s most at home in the sound world she creates around her own voice -- some alchemic and magical combination of these influences.

Raised in California, Emily played classical piano as a child, but lived a carefree beach lifestyle soaked in everyone from Streisand to Earth Wind and Fire, Weather Report and the Clash. As a teenager she discovered the electric organ in a friend’s basement and, armed with a Beatles book, began to develop her rhapsodic keyboard style. She went on to the Oberlin Conservatory to study opera but was soon lost to the lure of the subterranean electronic music studios. Returning to California after Oberlin she continued to experiment at Stanford University’s famed computer music center, producing a piece that won an award at the Bourges Electronic music competition in France. But it was during a two year stay in Zurich, Switzerland in her early 20’s that she began to put together her own small studio and forge the songs that would finally fuse the diverse strands of her musical upbringing.

Soon after arriving back in San Francisco in the early 90’s she joined the acclaimed art-rock band The Potato Eaters and found herself performing on the city’s biggest stages. The Potato Eaters would release an EP, "I Thought I Heard You" and a live album, "Wreckless", but it wasn’t until 1993 that Emily stepped forward with her own fully-formed musical vision: her debut solo album "Grandmother’s Tea Leaves." GTL was her unrestrained response to years of academic music study and the astringent esthetic of much post-WWII classical composition. More like a collection of lyrical arias and tone-poems than a song album, it earned her comparisons to Kate Bush and Keith Jarrett.

But Emily needed to amplify the insistent rhythms in her new songs and in 1996 she formed a band to record her second album, "Moon in Grenadine". A song cycle about marriage and permanence, MiG was part chamber-jazz, part rock-opera interspersed with some of her most delicate solo piano-vocal songs. It would be called one of Stereophile Magazine’s 1997 "Records to Die For" and inspired one critic to call it "an album that puts the listener into a luxurious world of pure sonic beauty."

In 1999, after the birth of her first child, she reassembled her band to record what would become her most rock-infused album, "Four Walls Bending". Melding jazz fusion, progressive rock and electronic soundscapes, she spun soaring melodies against a backdrop of churning guitars and intricate analog keyboard parts. Lyrically, FWB explored her identity as a new mother and the powerful urge to protect a precious creation. A Downbeat Magazine review awarded it four stars and called it "textured, haunting art-rock" that "beautifully synthesizes elements of new music, jazz and pop."

With her 4th album, "Angels’ Abacus," written while Emily was living in France from 2001-2003, she produced her most operatic and ambitious work to date. This is music as architecture, as crystalline objects in time, with no agenda but its own sensual and complex beauty. Her voice, emotionally vivid but with a sheen of elegant reserve, glides and leaps over a landscape rich in electronic nuance and sparkling jazz-tinged piano. Her songs are kinetic and never languish, surging from delicate to intense, from open simplicity to opaque density, but always ravishingly melodic.

"Angels’ Abacus" is a meditation on love and faith in all of their ecstasies and in their doubts. In the title track she imagines an angelic conference discussing the fate of her and her lover. “This isn’t about renewal and redemption. It’s about wondering if there's someone keeping score on you up there and you’re just trying to cling to the next rung. It’s about conscience and the gravity of decision in life and love....wondering does every action negate the last or does it all add up? And I’ve always been consumed by the inner struggle between my reason and my intuition. I think it’s an intriguing paradox that an agent of faith, the angel, would be calculating our souls’ destiny.”

2008's "Exchange" is her 5th self-produced album of uncategorizable, emotionally compelling music and it is her most fearless exploration yet. If this is a jazz vocal album, then her musical references are an elusive, moving target, suggesting as much early 70’s electric fusion as tin-pan alley. If this is a classical vocal album, analyzing whether it is post-post-minimalism or pre-pre-Schoenberg is a hard study. And if it is Art-Rock, well then you’ll have to find s

Discography

Exchange (2008)
Rococo B-sides EP (2005)
Angels' Abacus (2004)
Four Walls Bending (1999)
Moon in Grenadine (1996)
Grandmother's Tea Leaves (1993)