By Tom Alvarez, Indianapolis Performing Arts Examiner
June 9, 2012
The one thing you can depend on when you hear jazz singer extraordinaire Stacey Kent perform is that you are going to hear every single syllable of every word she sings because she has near-perfect diction. Such was the case during her performance Thursday, the first of a two-night engagement at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in downtown Indianapolis.
Not only did you hear each lyric Kent sang, but you heard them delivered in a distinctive sweet-sounding voice, with a whisper of rasp that is as crystal clear in tone as the mountain air surrounding the Colorado Rockies where she lives with her husband, Jim Tomlinson, when they are not touring the world. Tomlinson plays sax in the exceptional band that accompanied her. The other musicians are Gordy Johnson on bass, Phil Hey on drums and Graham Harvey on piano.
Fresh-faced and waiflike, and wearing a tomboy haircut, Kent also phrased her lyrics in a way that made all the songs she sang sound not only conversational but also thoroughly poetic. So mesmerizing is her style of storytelling that it was easy to be drawn into her languid spell.
Kent’s program included songs from her older albums, songs that she has yet to record and songs from the just-released “Dreamer in Concert,” her first live album which was recorded in May 2011 at La Cigale in Paris. Also included was a song from a request she received on Facebook, which she says is her favorite way to stay in touch with her fans.
Highlights of Kent’s show included “They Can’t Take That Away From Me,” “The Surrey With the Fringe on Top,” “Smile,” “The Ice Hotel” and “Breakfast on the Morning Tram,” written by her husband and Kazuo Ishiguro, a frequent collaborator of the two.
Kent, whose Russian grandfather was raised in France and who taught her French as a second language, also sounded lovely singing “Sait-on Jamais?” and “Raconte-Moi.”
Of all the songs in Kent’s show, the ones that were most striking were those composed by some of Brazil’s most renowned songwriters. Kent’s fondness and appreciation for Brazilian music showed in her interpretation of its greatest classics. They included “Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars,” “Waters of March,” “Dreamer” (the title track of her new CD) by Antonio Carlos Jobim, “So Nice” by Marcos Valle and “Samba Saravah” by Pierre Barouh and Baden Powell de Aquino.
Tomlinson, as well as the other musicians, had their moment in the spotlight during various solos throughout the show, but he absolutely shone while performing a sensual interpretation of Gordon Jenkins’ “This Is All I Ask.”
For her encore, Kent, who told the audience that she thrives on traveling the world (she and the band came to Indianapolis via Tunisia), sang a version of “What a Wonderful World” — a song which best illustrated her rare ability at using simplicity to powerfully convey emotion.
For upcoming Cabaret at the Columbia Club performances, call (317) 275-1169 or visit www.thecabaret.org.
Click here for the full story and for a slideshow of pictures from the show.
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