CAPITAL DISTRICT When Shaker High School alum and Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Kim Nazarian takes to the stage in the high school auditorium on Feb. 2, it will be just as powerful for her as for the group of choir students who will be performing alongside her.
“It’s an experience that comes full circle because that’s where I started,” said Nazarian. “It’s so great to go back home and give back to the place that initially inspired you along this path.”
Her path is one that started long before she was in high school — she sang her first wedding gig at age 7 — but the music class of Ned Fleischer is where her true passion was ignited.
“It all goes back to Ned Fleischer and his passion for music and his passion for teaching and the quality and high standards that he put forth and what he expected of us,” said Nazarian.
She grew up listening to jazz groups, claiming her parents’ old records “bent her ear” in that direction, but it was during Fleischer’s classes that she found her own place in the genre.
“It was the beginning of all my experience. It’s the harmony … it’s the complexity and sophistication of the music, and it’s also that my voice lent itself well to this,” said Nazarian. “It felt good, it felt natural.”
Nazarian’s inspiration led her to cofound the New York Voices, a jazz vocal quartet. The group put out six albums (plus solo projects) and went on to win a Grammy with the Count Basie Orchestra, as well as a Latin Grammy.
Now, they’re getting ready to celebrate their 25th anniversary and preparing to release a seventh album; but coming home for the February performance is what Nazarian’s focused on.
“Exciting things are happening where it all began. It’s quite fascinating,” said Nazarian.