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VINE VOICEon October 29, 2007
British-American singer Stacey Kent's new album, "Breakfast On The Morning Tram," shows the youthful jazz chanteuse with the sweet, yet strong voice, to be enjoying unprecedented growth in her career. She's put together a bigger band, with a number of talented musicians, and she's allowed them lots of room to stretch on this disk. She has also, for the first time, recorded original compositions: this album has only three songs from the Great American Songbook, on which she had so successfully relied until now. She has also moved on from her first recording label, the small independent Candid, to the prestigious jazzy Blue Note.

Kent, who was born in South Orange, New Jersey, met her talented husband, saxophonist, now producer/arranger/composer, Jim Tomlinson, with whom she works, while both were students at London's 125 year old Guildhall School of Music and Drama. The singer, whose clear voice and delivery lie somewhere between the flirtatious sound of Norah Jones, and the ever-popular smoky barroom sound now delivered by Diana Krall and Claire Martin, among others, was initially championed by British critic and jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton. She credits Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake, Nancy Wilson, and Cannonball Adderley as the biggest influences on her work. She has won the 2001 British Jazz Award, and the 2002 British Broadcasting Corporation Jazz Award for Best Vocalist. She has a large, devoted following that should be pleased by her newest release.

"Breakfast" gives more than a nod to France, where Kent did post-graduate work, and is exceedingly popular: she was, in fact, signed by the Paris office of Blue Note. The French gave the 2006 "Boy Next Door" Gold Album status within six months of its release. They've greeted "Breakfast" by giving it, within six weeks of its release, Top #20 status on the general charts, and Top #10 status on the jazz charts; they've also given it an enthusiastic sell-out audience at Paris's legendary Olympia Music Hall. The new album includes two songs Kent identifies as her personal favorites from the works of the French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, "Ces Petits Riens," and "La Saison des Pluies." It also includes a cover of that rhythmic tune from "Un Homme et Une Femme," (that'll be "A Man and A Woman," to us), "Samba Saravah," by Pierre Barouh.

"So Many Stars" is another lilting samba on this Latin-tinged record, music by the Brazilian Sergio Mendes, words by the American powerhouse duo Marilyn and Alan Bergman. In addition, Kent covers "Landslide," by Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, in tribute to the Colorado Rockies, where she and Tomlinson enjoy spending their down time. "Never Let Me Go," "Hard Hearted Hannah," and "Wonderful World" are from the Great American Songbook that's served the singer so well.

Finally, "Breakfast" boasts four unusual, outstanding new compositions, all with lyrics by British Booker Prize winning novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, who wrote the liner notes for the 2003 release "In Love Again," and music by Tomlinson, with whose saxophone Kent sings in delicious close harmony. These songs, the Latin-grooving "Ice Hotel," the title song, "I Wish I Could Go Travelling Again," and "So Romantic," allow Kent's whispering voice to suggest, as Ishiguro has noted, almost a private, inner conversation, with its hesitations and asides, that remains close to the rhythms, inflections, and informalities of everyday speech. But then, so many of her listeners feel that Kent is singing for them alone, telling a wistful story, as she likes to do. Famous jazz lover Clint Eastwood asked her to perform at his 70th birthday party. Most of us can't quite afford that, unfortunately, but I've been lucky enough to catch her a few times in her month-long stands at New York's esteemed Algonquin Hotel: and, yes, she's also played Carnegie Hall. You want to catch her if you can.
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Stacey Kent was quoted by writer of Liner Notes, Robert G. Kaiser, saying: "I wanted to reveal more of myself on this album in a way that I hadn't fully before." He ended his Liner Notes with these words: "Did she succeed? I think so. Now you decide."

Yes, I guess she succeeded in revealing that she could also record non-standards and French songs as she never done before since most of her albums are standards-oriented in which she excels because she is one of the very best interpreters of The Great American Songbook. I have enjoyed her albums in my collection and they get a fair share of playtime in my listening adventure.

"Breakfast On The Morning Tram" was recorded in England in 2007 and released on the same year under Blue Note. It is Ms. Kent's first project with the prestigious recording company known for its high-quality jazz albums. It presents Stacey Kent in her most relaxed renditions of a plateful of contemporary songs, a spoonful of standards, and a scoop of French chansons. She is backed by her regular, ever reliable, uber talented bandmates: Jim Tomlinson (sax/flute), John Parricelli (guitar), Graham Harvey (piano), Dave Chamberlain (double bass) and Matt Skelton (drums/percussions). Jim Tomlinson wrote the striking arrangements on the entire tracks and the band's interplay is simply splendid.

The repertoire starts off with "The Ice Hotel," an original song with lyrics written by Kazuo Ishiguro set to glowing, well-composed music by Jim Tomlinson, a superb saxophonist whose technique has the same quality and finesse with that of Stan Getz.

Ray Evans and Jay Livingston's "Never Let Me Go" is the theme song from the 1956 movie "The Scarlet Hour." It was performed by Nat King Cole in that movie. The songwriting pair was also known for their many famous songs most notably "Mona Lisa" and "Dear Heart." She renders it immaculately with utmost respect to the real essence of the song--no frills and extra toppings--just the perfect way the songwriters expected it to be sung. Simple yet full of charms.

The French songs are very special treats for my ears. The rhythms of "Samba Saravah" and "Ces Petits Riens" are engagingly enchanting. "La Saison Des Pluies" is very delicately delivered with only a gentle guitar accompaniment by John Parricelli. It is a soothing serenade.

Sergio Mendes, Alan and Marilyn Bergman's "So Many Stars" is the peach of my ear. It is one of the most beautiful renditions ever recorded. Other noteworthy versions of this lovely song in my music collection include that of Natalie Cole (Ask a Woman Who Knows ), Jane Monheit (Surrender and Come Dream With Me ), Sarah Vaughan (Jazz Signatures - Send in the Clowns: Very Best Of ), Barbra Streisand (What Matters Most - Barbra Streisand Sings The Lyrics of Alan And Marilyn Bergman) and of course the original recording of Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 (Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Greatest Hits).

She ends this pleasing presentation with a sempiternal standard made popular by the legendary Louis Armstrong, "What A Wonderful World," which highlights John Parricelli's attention-grabbing guitar riffs.

I'm a staunch appreciator of Stacey Kent and Jim Tomlinson music and have collected more than a dozen of their remarkable CDs to enjoy forever. I always look forward to their new albums.

I graciously recommend this album. You'll enjoy it as much as I do!
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on October 1, 2014
Stacey Kent is the heiress apparent to all the great female singers of the American songbook. She does not disappoint in this album. Mixing the old and the new, she and the terrific band behind her provide an hour of total entertainment. She doesn't come to the US often, so this is the best way to enjoy her unique sound.
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on June 13, 2014
Stacy Kent is one of the best vocalists in the world of jazz--I would think everyone knows this at this point. The collaboration with her husband, Jim Tomlinson--featured here as composer, arranger--and playing tenor, soprano sax, and flute on this cd--is a gift from her/them to all who love this music.
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on March 21, 2014
I enjoy the classic jazz and cabaret vocalists, and came across this album when making another purchase. However, after listening to it a few times I am disappointed. Stacey Kent tours widely and steadily in Europe, in parts of the US, and elsewhere, and recorded several American Songbook type albums before this. Apparently, she is engaging and moving in her live performances. She is a nice vocalist, and the musicians on this album are more than competent, but I found the arrangements cliché and obvious, and uninteresting. Her singing here does not bring the songs to life, or overcome the arrangements. Some of the original songs, including the title piece, are reminiscent of other songs and, for me, the lyrics are not particularly memorable or clever.
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on December 18, 2007
I heard the song "I Wish I Could Go Traveling Again" while driving on the Freeway in San Jose, CA and suddenly I was taken to a different place. I was just grateful there was a decent jazz station in the area. While that song convinced me to buy the album (which I did on Amazon that evening), I heard another song ("Landslide") from the same album back in NY on WBGO. When the DJ said it was Stacey Kent from her new album "Breakfast on the Morning Tram", I KNEW I had picked a winner. A few days later when I received the CD, the song mix confirmed my expectations - a GREAT mix of songs by a vocalist who doesn't blast the notes, but still gives me the shivers. Stacey - way to go !
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on August 8, 2014
This is just such a soothing sound, I can listen to this over and over! I need to put together a longer playlist, since I have 5 more of her CD's. Some of her selections make me think of being in another place and time. A Deja Vu of sorts, just staring into a cup of coffee and thinking while the scenery goes by on the train. Delightful!
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on November 3, 2014
What a nice surprise, for sure...Talented songstress and a great addition to my jazz collection. An artist I knew nothing about until I heard "The Ice Hotel." I am in love with the song/lyrics and all of her music.

What else can I say? Marvelous find:)
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on October 7, 2007
After waiting with wild anticipation for this release, I have to say that I was not disappointed. I really enjoy the wide range of songs on this release; it is refreshing to hear some original songs as well as a few standards. Ms. Kent's amazing voice has never been better. After listening to it, I fall in love with these songs more and more. Mr. Ishiguro's contributions make "Ice Hotel" such a great song. (the more I listen to it, the more I understand the deeper meaning of it). I agree that Ms. Kent seems so at ease on this release. Her arrangement of "Landslide" sounds better than the original. I just love the variety of French and English. My only regret is that there were not more solos of Mr. Tomlinson's, as I really enjoy his sax playing. Just a sweet, sweet release that will surprise many with the originals. I just hope we don't have to wait long for her next release. I can never get enough. BRAVO to Ms. Kent and Mr. Tomlinson.
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on June 17, 2012
What an absolutely lovely and supple voice ex-pat Stacy Kent has . I keep listening to this recording and waiting for it to morph into something swinging . To sing in French as well (and in such a lovely and effortless manner) . The woman can certainly sing and has a beautiful voice . Instrumentally , i part company with the Brit authors of the various PENGUIN GUIDE TO JAZZ volumes . To me , this is folk/pop . I like popular music . At NO time are my socks , even remotely , threatened with being knocked off . Semi faux jazz for someone ? you decide . Great musicians as well (i'm told) . To each their own .
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