Stacey Kent

DAVID WAKEFIELD East Coast Jazz Festival at Norwich Playhouse

DAVID WAKEFIELD

> Norwich Playhouse

Stacey Kent loves coming to Norwich; at least she says that is so, and who am I to doubt it?

Certainly city audiences have a great rapport with this spiky New Yorker who sings the Great American Songbook perhaps better than anyone else on this planet.

Saturday's concert, part of the East Coast Jazz Festival, will only enhance it.

Her attributes are immediately obvious: crystal clear diction plus immaculate phrasing and delivery, all enhanced by a pleasing stage presence.

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From the opening, swinging bars of Day In, Day Out, this was a performance of quality, running through a selection of familiar standards – Berlin, Porter, Rodgers – while also venturing into more modern times via Carole King and Michel LeGrand.

Kent has the ability to make old favourites sound bang up to date with some clever arrangements.

As an example she sang the familiar tune from Oklahoma! – Surrey With The Fringe On Top – not in the usual clip-clopping tempo but as a sultry ballad. And my personal favourite was the cleverly-arranged version of Lerner and Loewe's I've Grown Accustomed To (His) Face, from My Fair Lady – quite exquisite.

It helps, of course, to have sympathetic backing, and Stacey Kent has some of the best: in particular, pianist David Newton, whose accompaniment skills are to die for.

There were also fine contributions from her musical director husband Jim Tomlinson (tenor sax) and Colin Oxley (guitar).