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Stacey Kent: The Changing Lights

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Stacey Kent

Stacey Kent - The Changing LightsThere are few vocalists who can sing with such fragrant lyricism as Stacey Kent. The fact that she can sing in several languages—and make them her own—is something many singers do, but few do as well as she does. Moreover, few can capture the essence of the idiom of that language as Ms. Kent can. The manner in which she immerses herself in “A Tarde” and “Chanson Légère” is absolutely superb. She does all this and more on The Changing Lights, an album that is neither wholly English, not wholly French, but almost wholly Brasilian, a gorgeous album where several cultures collide, in the classical sense; and one that defines, as a matter of fact, all that is best about Brasilian music today. In fact this album is wholly reminiscent of the finest work that the great Antonio Carlos Jobim did at the height of his powers. It is clear, therefore, that Ms. Kent dreams in Portuguese, and Mr. Jobim did; but she interprets these “dreams” in her own singular manner and in a voice so perfect that she makes each song a miniature aria unto itself. And there is something else: she is aided and abetted by saxophonist, Jim Tomlinson, who conjures up Stan Getz at his poetic best. This is, however, elementally different from Astrüd Gilberto and Stan Getz. Mr. Getz and Ms. Gilberto were romantic strangers who came across each other; Ms. Kent and Mr. Tomlinson are lovers entranced by each other. And before long they are in each other’s arms, musically speaking.

Stacey Kent inhabits her music and music inhabits her as if by magic. The songs come from somewhere so deep inside of her and they course through her body, emerging from her lips eventually. Along the way they possess her lithe frame. She sways sensuously as she sings. The lines undulate in a fluttering manner and they are woven into each other as if they are gossamer. The result is that the song becomes an enchanted translucent, diaphanous tapestry that glimmers in the air above her smiling face. Ms. Kent sometimes sounds so vulnerable that the listener feels an irresistible urge to rush to her rescue. However, up pops Mr. Tomlinson at that very moment to gently pry the lyricism, to open the strings of her heart and play a pick-up line that is absolutely beautiful and alluring. The saxophonist has a fine sense of timing. On “This Happy Madness” he slides in with devastating, almost rakish charm and all but devours the lyric of the song. His appetite for sensuality is equally wholesome and it seems to match Ms. Kent’s with equal charm and teasing splendour on “Waiter, Oh Waiter.” Here is a song with an exquisite storyline of lovers so entranced by each other that they are lost in the memories of their recent affair that they are almost childishly oblivious of reality. Mr. Tomlinson’s solo is hauntingly beautiful. Guitarist John Parricelli`s guitar throughout.

And there also lies the rub. A major element in the beauty of this recording is the manner in which bass and drums intertwine with guitar and how they all swirl around the saxophonist. This is an extremely well-knit group, in any configuration. And all of the players seem to each other. Eschewing the mundane this band makes every note count, just as Mr. Tomlinson does in “How Insensitive,” just as pianist Graham Harvey does too; just as the guitarist John Parricelli is even in the most unguarded moments of songs such as “The Changing Lights.” And then there is that superb song, “O Barquinho (My Little Boat)” where the magnificent Roberto Menescal graces the song, making it one of the crowning moments of this extraordinary album. There is a quiet strength in this chart that mirrors the unobtrusive métier that comes from the musical sure-footedness with which Stacey Kent skips through the challenges of The Changing Lights.

Track List: This Happy Madness; The Summer We Crossed Europe In The Rain; One Note Samba (Samba De Uma Nota So); Mais Uma Vez; Waiter, Oh Waiter; O Barquinho (My Little Boat); The Changing Lights; How Insensitive; O Bebado E A Equilibrista/Smile; Like A Lover; The Face I Love; A Tarde; Chanson Lagere; Quiet Night Of Quiet Stars (Corcovado); Meditation.

Personnel: Stacey Kent: vocals, guitar (8); Jim Tomlinson: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute; Graham Harvey: piano and Fender Rhodes; Roberto Menescal: guitar (6, 12); John Parricelli: guitar (2 – 5, 7, 10, 13, 15); Jeremy Brown: double bass; Matt Home: drums (1, 7, 8, 11); Joshua Morrison: drums (2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 13, 15); Raymundo Bittencourt: ganza (6)

Label: Warner Brothers Records | Release date: March 2014

Website: staceykent.com | Buy music on: amazon

About Stacey Kent

An American language student moves to Europe to study French, Italian and German for a Masters degree in comparative literature. Her life takes an unexpected twist that sees Stacey Kent become one of the world’s foremost jazz singers.

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