säje, säje

Self-released, August 2023


The vocal supergroup, säje (rhymes with “beige”), is the brainchild of vocalists/composers Sara Gazarek, Amanda Taylor, Johnaye Kendrick, and Erin Bentlage. The four talented musicians blend their voices to transform the quality and precision of their vocal harmonies into a unique instrument of its own. 

The debut album is a collection of well-crafted originals, reimagined standards, and takes on hits by artists like Yebba, The Bad Plus, and The Beatles. Using the compositions as a vehicle, säje looks beyond traditional boundaries and presents their music with exceptional phrasing and colorful curiosity.

The debut single, “Desert Song” opens with the sounds of a tender, rhythmic guitar that provides a simple yet sturdy canvas for which säje can paint their vocal magic.

The album features several collaborators, including vocalist Michael Mayo, trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. 

Mayo joins the vocal quartet on the track “(You Are) The Oracle” with his vocal improvisational talents that ride strong but easy upon a driving musical groove. Akinmusire contributes a haunting introduction and interplay on the track “Never You Mind” written by  Kendrick. She says, “I wrote ‘Never You Mind’ as a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. I needed to write a piece that acknowledged what is happening to Black people across our country; I needed to say their names.”

Multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier also contributes his vocal skills on the iconic jazz standard “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning,” in which säje spins in their unique, flavorful web around Collier’s powerful performance.

A closer look at the group’s individual musical resumes adds even more intrigue to their collective aura. Bentlage has showcased her skills on various albums, including Jacob Collier’s Djesse Vol. 3. Taylor has received recognition for her work with The Manhattan Transfer and Chanticleer. Kendrick has released two albums and has a vast collection of original and arranged songs. Gazarek is a force in the jazz world, having been nominated for two Grammy Awards for her solo work. 

säje’s debut album glows with blazing harmonies, echoing riffs, and unique melodies and phrasing. This collection of songs presents an auditory experience that brings listeners on a unique exploration of sound and invites them to experience the sonic talents of a group surely on the rise to their deserved jazz and musical heights.

säje performs at the Earshot Jazz Festival on Friday October 13th. For information and tickets follow this link.


Posted on

August 28, 2023