Steve Murray

Performing Arts Reviews

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Stacey Kent – I Know I Dream

Stacey Kent – I Know I Dream
Bay Area Cabaret, Venetian Room, San Francisco, CA, February 24, 2018

Multi-platinum, international jazz star Stacey Kent presented the quintet vision of her new orchestral CD I Know I Dream to a rapt and appreciate audience at Bay Area Cabaret at the Venetian Room. Kent’s vocals expertly conjure up the dreamy landscapes of her music influences, mainly French and Brazilian. Buoyed by the symbiotic accompaniment of husband/composer/arranger/musician Jim Tomlinson, Kent repertoire is smooth, pleasing and meticulous.

Her set was spilt between tunes from the new CD and moody, soft covers of Great American Songbook classics. Opening with the upbeat Brazilian rhythmed “Make It Up” (Jim Tomlinson/Cliff Goldmacher), Kent quickly moved to her international influences on two tunes from the new CD; Serge Gainsbourg’s “Les Amour Perdues” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Photograph”. There’s a warmth and softness to Kent’s vocals that demand attention. Her delivery melting seamlessly with Tomlinson’s wistful clarinet, flute or tenor sax lines and Art Hirahara’s lyrical piano runs. The sound is beautifully represented on her rendition of Ray Noble’s “The Very Thought of You” and “That’s All” (Bob Haynes/Alan Brandt).

Tomlinson’s contributions to Kent’s sound are immense, the two producing a style that is the more than the sum of the parts. ”Bullet Train” and “Breakfast on the Morning Tram” are contemporary material written by Tomlinson and Nobel prize winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. Its sublime storytelling at its finest, Kent’s voice assured and pure. Edu Lobo, Torquato Neto and Lani Hall’s heartbreak melody “To Say Goodbye” is a typical Kent vocal; vibrato-less, warm and intimate. She reminds me a little of a jazzier Julie London, another master of the understated attention to lyric and emotions.

The arrangements were stellar, allowing Hirahara, bassist Tom Hubbard and drummer Anthony Pinciotti opportunities to color the moods. Kent ended her set with Aldir Blanc and Joao Bosco’s “O Bêbado e A Equilibrista” which segued to Charles Chaplin’s “Smile”. Kent and husband Tomlinson make it all look so effortless, despite the complexity of the layers, which is a great skill in itself.