Stacey Kent: I Know I Dream

  • Post author:
  • Reading time:3 mins read

Stacey Kent

I Know I Dream

Venetian Room, San Francisco, CA, February 24, 2018

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes 

Stacey Kent

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 musical influences, mainly French and Brazilian. Buoyed by the symbiotic accompaniment of husband/composer/ arranger/musician Jim Tomlinson, her repertoire is smooth, pleasing, and meticulous.

Her set was split between material 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 selections from the new CD: Serge Gainsbourg’s “Les amours perdues” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Photograph” (English lyrics: Ray Gilbert). Warmth and softness in Kent’s vocals demand attention. Her delivery melts 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 Haymes/Alan Brandt). Tomlinson’s contributions to Kent’s sound are immense, the two producing a style that is the more than the sum of its parts.
“Bullet Train” and “Breakfast on the Morning Tram” are contemporary material written by Tomlinson and Nobel Prize-winning author Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s sublime storytelling at its finest, Kent’s voice assured and pure.

Edu Lobo, Torquato Neto, and Lani Hall’s heartbreaker “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 lyrics 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 Charlie Chaplin/John Turner/Geoffrey Parsons’ “Smile.” Kent and Tomlinson make it all look so effortless, despite the complexity of the layers, which is a great skill in itself.

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.