REVIEW:Stacey Kent and Her Musicians, The Concorde, Eastleigh

AMERICAN jazz songstress Stacey Kent was in a party mood as she celebrated the 20 th anniversary of her debut album.

For it was in September 1997 that she released Close Your Eyes on the Candid Record label and her reprise of this career defining track brought rapturous applause from her fans.

They turned out in force to watch their idol, snapping up her CDs during the interval.

With a string of studio albums to her name, this multi-lingual Grammy nominated singer has firmly establishing herself on the global jazz map. She has played in more than 50 countries.

Her much acclaimed Platinum selling and Grammy nominated Breakfast On the Morning Train album was released in 38 countries, topping the general album charts for more than a year.

Stacey has been a regular Concorde headliner since she launched her recording career and her latest appearance came hard on the heels of a run at another legendary jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s in London.

A singer of love songs, the jazz star says she is drawn to emotion and expressing the human condition in all its forms. This was reflected in her emotion charged performance.

She had vowed to return the Stoneham Lane club to help celebrate its 60 th anniversary.

It was Stacey’s fast moving version of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s It Might As Well Be Spring which lit the blue touch paper for a lively first set.

She briefly broke away to fetch a glass of water from the bar to leave her talented musicians to deliver an impeccable jazz master class.

They were led by Stacey’s husband and musical arranger Jim Tomlinson who wowed the audience with dazzling solos on tenor saxophone.

It is clear to see the musical chemistry between the two. Jim has penned many of his other half’s bestselling album tracks.

From the American song book it was a swift trip across the Atlantic as Stacey delivered a moving interpretation of English bandleader Ray Noble’s 1934 pop standard The Very Thought of You.

I particularly liked her version of The Best Is Yet To Come, covered by such music greats as Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett.

Stacey’s army of fans also had a taster of her latest album, I Know I Dream. Released at the end of this month, it is her first orchestral album and was recorded with more than 60 musicians in the famous Angel Studios in London.

And it sounds as if the singer who took the jazz world by storm 20 years ago has another hit on her hands.

Duncan Eaton