DEGREES OF JAZZ
Robert J. Lewis
Featured artist: STACEY KENT
2004 version of the Montreal Jazz Festival, Dianne Reeves, in
Place des Arts, drew an enthusiastic crowd of 2000. The following
day, in a much smaller venue, Stacey Kent drew 200, after which,
“I said to myself, get a hold of yourself,” something
isn’t right here.
is blessed with a voice that is richer than non-hydrogenated Becel
and a range that begins in the depths of the Grand Canyon and
soars to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Her vocal acrobatics
– not to be confused with singing -- comprised of breathtaking
ascensions and descensions, are the stuff that causes jaws to
drop, while her trio, anchored by lyrically gifted bassist James
Genus, played circles around Stacey’s competent but rather
it comes to getting deep into the unsuspected depths of the lyric,
Stacey Kent -- with all due respect to Diana, Nora and Cassandra
-- stands in shadow of no one’s smile.
uncommon gift is her small, exquisitely clear, cozy and vulnerable
voice that communicates in a big way (much like Chet Baker’s),
and lends itself perfectly to the standards, especially the ballads
she doesn’t do enough of: those signature-intimate confessions
that are whispered to small audiences that come to have their
hurts and regrets revealed to them. Her mostly impeccable phrasing
belies the fact that she is still too young to have seen and done
it all, which is the best reason to catch her live, where her
charm, that combines a love of making music of the music she loves,
is nothing less than note-perfectly infectious.
album, The Boy Next Door, 2003, includes Say It Isn’t
So, I Got It Bad, and Paul Simon’s Bookends.
to Stacey sing Gordon and Revel’s endearing THERE'S
A LULL IN MY LIFE
Six months later, at The Spectrum (Montreal), the inspired lyricism
of saxophonist Jim Tomlinson forces me to retract my initial quasi-pan
of the band.