Sara Yervand
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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"Madison's Yervand Delivers Hardball Jazz"

Sara Yervand will open for saxaphonist Greg Abate at Jazz at Five Wednesday, at State Street and the Capitol Square.
It's a very exciting prospect to consider what Sara Yervand has in store Wednesday, when she will front a six-piece group at Jazz at Five as the opening act for saxophonist Greg Abate. (It all starts at 5 p.m. at State Street and the Capitol Square.)

I say this after fairly careful scrutiny of her debut CD "Introducing Sara Yervand."

Local jazz fans may need a reintroduction to this singer who has been on the scene for a number of years as Sara Erzenkian.
She already seems to have mastered a subtle sense of jazz phrasing -- placing words, accents and flourishes around the beat, all of which is quite evident right from the CD opening track "But Beautiful."

A trace of coquettish manner may remind some of Kelly DeHaven, as well as the way she dives into a phrase and twists it around her vocal finger. She seems also to have learned from DeHaven's missteps over the years because they share a risky singing style. Coincidentally or not, DeHaven's musical partner, trumpeter Dave Cooper, is also on deck, as is New York-based pianist Armen Donelian, who is associated with DeHaven.

Donelian plays on perhaps the two most emotionally challenging tunes, "Speak Low" and "Lush Life." Yervand also takes excellent advantage of a very knowing and gifted father -- Yervand Yerzynkyan -- a musician, composer and conductor who wrote the CD's arrangements and apparently is her musical mentor.

"Speak Low" is persuasive and understated, as it should be. Pianist Dave Stoler, bassist Jim Paolo and drummer Dane Richeson provide sharp dramatic accompaniment, boosting Yervand's voice with a shapely swing that gives her vocal sweetness a twist of rhythmic lemon.

"Manha de Carnaval (A Day in the Life of a Fool)," with cello and trumpet intros, unfolds like sad waves of romantic sorrow lapping at the feet of her memory.

"Love for Sale" is a deliciously hip arrangement, a bit like Charles Mingus back from the dead to musically flirt with Ms. Yervand. Listen to the pungent horn voicings, alternately terse and sassy, and the serpentine horn obbligatos and the shambling rhythm section. Yervand is just the musical tart Cole Porter envisioned when he wrote this song.

This rendition is serious, hardball jazz. Yervand tops it the only way she can, by throwing us a killer sinkerball.

"Lush Life" descends slowly to the depths -- as does any performance aiming to do justice to this great song and its lineage. The descent is not without blase defiance, melodic rumination and self-pity. By the end, Yervand seems to have aged 10 years without a trace of overacting. Rather, she's lost self-possession and a bit of vocal eyeliner and actually stumbled into "some small dive."

"Love for Sale" and "Lush Life" add up to 11 minutes of great jazz vocal music, perhaps the best recorded two-song performance by a Madison jazz singer in recent memory (there's been plenty of competition). And yet I think it's something Yervand can also grow with.

Take nothing away from sax and flute virtuoso Greg Abate, who could tear up the street corner on Wednesday, such is his talent and passion.

But I'm more selfishly excited about Yervand because she's Madison's own, and we ought to make sure she sticks around town for a while -- with proper appreciation.



- Kevin Lynch of Wisconsin State Journal


"Music to remember us by"

Sara Yervand: Introducing Sara Yervand

Yervand's also a skillful jazz chanteuse. The former Sara Erzinkian has plenty of club experience, and that shows in her ability to express a strong sense of personality on this CD's 10 selections.

Yervand was born in Armenia and had extensive stage experience there, and very occasionally you catch a hint of an accent in her appealing, Sarah Vaughan-influenced treatment of "Moon Ray." But that's not a flaw; it actually sets her apart from the parade of singers trying to become the next Diana Krall. Speaking of personality, there's nothing on Introducing Sara Yervand quite as bold as her exploration of "Manha de Carnaval," which finds her acting the bittersweet part of a yearning lover with real intelligence. No glossy sentimentality here, just palpable emotions modulated along a very believable dramatic arc.

Yervand's accompanists include many of the region's most accomplished players (trumpeter Dave Cooper, drummer Dane Richeson, etc.), some of whom flirt unexpectedly with dissonance on a raucous run-through of "Love for Sale." But Yervand's voice offers most of the excitement and the surprises here in winning, often very playful performances that at times seem drawn from an intimate club gig.

Sara Yervand plays CD release parties May 19 at the Concourse Hotel and May 21 at Maduro.

- by Tom Laskin/Isthmus Magazine


"The Isthmus Jazz Festival takes over a summer weekend"

Of the concerts I did manage to shoehorn into on Friday, singer Sara Yervand's in Promenade Hall felt most like a nightclub set. Dressed in a black sleeveless dress accessorized with a thick brass-colored necklace and matching bracelet, Yervand radiated summertime sophistication. So did her band, which included top local instrumentalists like trumpeter Dave Cooper, pianist Dave Stoler and saxophonist Anders Svanoe. Drawing heavily from her new CD, Introducing Sara Yervand, the Armenian-born singer offered stylish readings of "Beautiful Life," "Moon Ray" and "Speak Low" that bore the influence of Sarah Vaughan. Unsurprisingly, Cooper also made deft, bop-flavored nods to Vaughan collaborator Clifford Brown.

- Isthmus Magazine


"CD review by Jim Santella"

With her program of familiar standards and a swinging ensemble of strong accompanists, Sara Yervand creates enjoyable session that features expressive vocals. She gives each lyric its due, convincing through her personal grasp of each theme.
The songs that she's chosen wear well with our thoughts about jazz in general. They're all a significant part of jazz history. With "Mahna de Carnaval," Yervand opts for English lyrics to express the melancholy theme. With a warm ensemble sound all around her, she squeezes every ounce of Brazilian blues out of the song. Trumpet and cello lend their voices to the equation for a mellow affair, as the singer sashays with ease. "Love for Sale" features alto saxophone and trumpet with the piano trio in a swinging affair. Like the original Cole Porter idea for this piece, she delivers with cool authority, reminding the listener that life has its gloss. Baritone saxophone and trumpet step in for "It's all right with me", one of her better interpretations. Yervand captures the song's essence with passion and travels through her vocal range to meet that objective. Matt Turner's cello makes a great impact, particularly on "Fly me to the moon," which Yervand sings with a cool demeanor. His creative display gives the piece an exotic feeling. Armen Donelian joins her for two tracks, including a lovely duo performance of "Lush Life" that closes the program. She's comfortable interpreting this treasured ballad with piano accompaniment, and appears convincing throughout the album. - JazzImprov Magazine


"CD review by Michael P. Gladstone"

"This is Armenian-born singer Sara Yervand's debut recording, and I like her jazz sensibilities. The ten tracks are comprised of mostly the same old standards that you've heard quite a bit, but Yervand and a fine group lift them a notch or two through their performance.

The recording begins with a rarely heard vocal version of Victor Young's “Beautiful Love,” surely one of the favorite tunes of the late Bill Evans. Yervand takes the piece at a sprightly midtempo pace with some stimulating trumpet work by Dave Cooper. Another jazz standard that you don't hear sung very often, “Moon Ray,” is given a similar reading that totally swings! A slightly Latinized “Speak Low” is given a nice pickup by the tenor sax solo of Anders Svanoe (who also shows up with two nice baritone solos elsewhere). Cellist Matt Turner opens “Manha de Carnaval” with a stirring statement and then later adds more when the bossa rhythm has kicked in. Turner later contributes beautiful work on “How Long Has This Been Going On?”

Sara Yervand's presentation is that of a seasoned jazz vocalist, and although you can detect a very faint accent on some of the uptempo numbers, it should not interfere with your enjoyment of the music. "


<I> By Kevin Lynch/Capital Times

<B>"Local CD of the Year: Introducing Sara Yervand"-The precocious singer finds her identity as a quintessential American immigrant in harmony with serious local jazz brethren and savvy chartsby her father."

<I>By Tom Laskin/Isthmus Magazine

<B>"Yervand's a skillful jazz chanteuse. The former Sara Erzinkian has plenty of club experience, and that shows in her ability to express a strong sense of personality on this CD's 10 selections.
Yervand was born in Armenia and had extensive stage experience there and very occasionally you catch a hint of an accent in her appealing, Sarah Vaughan-influenced treatment of "Moon Ray." But that's not a flaw; it actually sets her apart from the parade of singers trying to become the next Diana Krall. Speaking of personality, there's nothing onIntroducing Sara Yervand quite as bold as her exploration of "Mahna de Carnaval," which finds her acting the bittersweet part of a yearning lover with real intelligence. No glossy sentimentality here, just palpable emotions modulated along a very believable dramatic arc.
Yervand's accompanists include many of the region's most accomplished players(trumpeter Dave Cooper, drummer Dane Richeson, etc.), some of whom flirt unexpectedly with dissonance on a raucous run-through of "Love for Sale." But Yervand's voice offer most of
the excitement and the surprises here in winning, often very playful performances that at times seem drawn from an intimate club gig." - All About Jazz


Discography

"Introducing Sara Yervand" is the first CD project by Sara Yervand released in May of 2005.
This project is a carefully selected collection of jazz standards with original arrangements that were written by Sara?fs father, Yervand Yerznkyan.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"Sara Yervand (former Erzinkian) was born in Armenia, and began to sing jazz, pop and Armenian folk music at the age of 15. She made many stage performances in Armenia, European countries, including Paris (live appearance on a TV show ?gSacree Soiree?h) Vienna (where she lived for 3 years), Montreal, Zagreb (Yugoslavia) and others. Her recordings with National Pop-Symphonic Orchestra of TV and Radio of Armenia under direction of conductor and composer Yervand Yerznkyan are outstanding.