Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jazz Vocals: Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent (vocals, b. 1968)

Stacey Kent is a wonderful interpreter for the American Songbook. In the way Anita O'Day, Ella Fitzgerald and Helen Merrill were before her. She isn't as original in her delivery as those legends but she pays homage to her influences with great respect.

Originally from New York, Stacey Kent moved to England for her university studies. She eventually met her husband and fellow band member saxophonist Jim Tomlinson, whom also directs the band. Stacey's vocals and the standards she chooses are tempered but that in some ways makes them more enjoyable and romantic.

There's no straying from the path to force you to think that she or the material are anything other what it is--a great standard. I have seen Stacey Kent perform on a number of occasions and she has never disappointed. She is a consummate performer with nothing but the passion of song in her heart. Some may feel there is a bit of a cocktail lounge atmosphere to the proceedings but I highly disagree.

Many of Stacey's albums are widely available thankfully. I would recommend her third album, Let Yourself Go (Candid Records) which is a tribute to the material associated with Fred Astaire. It is a great album with some really upbeat moments including the classic title track. Stacey Kent's most recent album Breakfast On The Morning Tram (Blue Note) is another one of my favourites. This was her Blue Note Records debut and while it doesn't change much in direction of her music, Stacey does attempt to showcase some of her own material as well as some interesting tributes to Serge Gainsbourg. A highly enjoyable outing.

Stacey Kent has been recording since '96 and while there have been a number of vocalists in the last few years who have skyrocketed to mass stardom on what can only be loosely called jazz, Stacey remains one of the few constants that maintains a high standard and is every bit worth your money. Grab a glass of wine and take a nice ride with Stacey Kent. You will be delighted.

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