STACEY KENT SIGNS WITH BLUE NOTE RECORDS
Blue Note in Paris has signed U.S. jazz singer, Stacey Kent, to an exclusive worldwide recording deal. Her debut album with Blue Note, ‘Breakfast On The Morning Tram’, will be released worldwide in autumn 2007. The album is produced by Stacey’s husband, tenor saxophonist, Jim Tomlinson, whose latest album, ‘The Lyric’, featuring Stacey, won Best Album at the 2006 BBC Jazz Awards.
"Blue Note is the label that just feels right," says Stacey. "It’s the label I dreamed of as a kid. Signing with Blue Note, I feel like Steffi Graf must have felt the first time she stepped onto court to play Martina Navratilova. I’ve always had enormous respect for Blue Note and for the artists on the label. So many personalities and different ways of expressing music and always with such integrity and soul. To be part of this family and history is a dream come true."
WHY ‘BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING TRAM’?
‘Breakfast On The Morning Tram’ sees Stacey Kent’s return to the studio after a four-year recording hiatus with a new album on a new label. But why ‘Breakfast On The Morning Tram’? The choice of title is both obvious and daring. It is obvious because the idea of breakfast and morning signal the start of something new and tram represents a journey in a fresh direction. It is daring because the title track is an original song and is the first original that Stacey has recorded. It was written especially for her, like three other songs on the album, by prize-winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro and producer, Jim Tomlinson.
Booker and Whitbread Prize-winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro, has written the lyrics to four original songs on the album, including the title track. Stacey’s association with Ishiguro began in 2002 when Ishiguro chose Stacey’s recording of “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” on the BBC Radio show, DESERT ISLAND DISCS. Subsequently, he wrote the liner notes for her album, “In Love Again” (included below). Ishiguro’s empathetic understanding of Stacey’s art gave her the idea that he would be the ideal lyricist for her and so, with Jim, they began collaborating on writing songs for her debut Blue Note album.
“Nothing has ever been quite so exciting as having songs written especially for me by two people I admire so much. Both Jim and Kazuo Ishiguro seem to understand me so implicitly that it seems as though I have always known their songs. Kazuo’s lyrics are like short stories and don’t follow conventional song forms and Jim’s melodies seem to capture the mood of the lyrics perfectly. The muscial worlds they create just knock me out!”
Stacey is very much steeped in the Great American Songbook repertoire that she has been singing since her career began. Although it has not figured largely in her repertoire, she also loves the folk music of her native USA. Both she and Jim play the guitar and sing, finding inspiration in the mountains of Colorado where they spend some of the year recharging their batteries. Thus the beautiful “Landslide,” which was composed in Aspen, Colorado by Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, is included on the new album.
Stacey is well known for her love of cinema which comes through in her choice of repertoire. Samba Saravah, the track chosen for the first single from the album, comes from the film ‘Un Homme et Une Femme’ by French Director, Claude Lelouch and Hard Hearted Hannah was inspired by Ella Fitzgerald’s famous version in the movie, ‘Pete Kelly’s Blues’. These light-hearted, playful songs capture the sense of fun that Stacey conveys, especially in her live performances.
Even in the sad songs and through the bittersweetness of much of the repertoire, an unyielding optimism underpins Stacey’s interpretations. “What a Wonderful World”, “So Many Stars” and “Never Let Me Go” are ideal vehicles for the way Stacey delicately balances her ‘joie de vivre’ with her understanding of sadness. Joy and pain go hand in hand in Stacey’s music.
“The subjects that I want to sing about have broadened. I am older and I have had more life experiences and so, naturally, I want to find a way to bring that into my music. I feel secure enough to be able to sing the songs that are quite simply ‘me’. As the ‘Landslide’ lyrics say, “time makes you bolder, even children get older”. I am older and bolder and I can balance romance and realism in a more realistic and mature way.”
Having lived and studied in Paris, like her Grandfather before her, Stacey grew up steeped in French music and literature. Stacey has always felt a tremendous connection between herself and her audiences, but she feels a special connection with her French fans. Her 2003 album ‘The Boy Next Door’, reached GOLD STATUS in France and her new album includes some of her favourite French songs, this time by songwriter, Serge Gainsbourg.
Stacey definitely sees this album as a new musical journey.
“I am very proud to present this first album with my new band. The last year year has been one of exciting musical growth and I feel that we have captured that on this album. A huge part of the fun in being a musician for me is that I get to grow and go on this musical journey with Jim. We are sharing our life experiences through the music.”
“There are some recurrent themes on this album; travelling (both literally and metaphorically), making choices and renewal seem to be the big three - and all are acutely personal. They were not consciously chosen but they were certainly at play in my subconscious when selecting the repertoire for the album. And the title track, 'Breakfast On The Morning Tram,' serves as an umbrella for these themes more than any other song.”
It's hard to say where this journey will end. But listen to the album and you will hear that it has begun. “Climb on board!”
STACEY KENT "Breakfast on the Morning Tram"
1. The Ice Hotel (Jim Tomlinson/Kazuo Ishiguro) 5.28
2. Landslide (Stevie Nicks) 3.48
3. Ces Petits Riens (Serge Gainsbourg) 3.21
4. I Wish I Could Go Travelling Again (Jim Tomlinson/Kazuo Ishiguro) 4.07
5. So Many Stars (Sergio Mendes/M & A Bergman) 4.00
6. Samba Saravah (B Powell/P Barouh / V deMoraes) 3.50
7. Breakfast on the Morning Tram (Jim Tomlinson/Kazuo Ishiguro) 5.54
8. Never Let Me Go (Jay Livingston/Ray Evans) 4.39
9. So Romantic (Jim Tomlinson/Kazuo Ishiguro) 5.00
10. Hard Hearted Hannah (Bob Bigelow/Charles Bates/Jack Yellen/Milton Ager) 4.49
11. La Saison des Pluies (Elek Bacsik/Serge Gainsbourg) 2.48
12. What a Wonderful World (G Douglas/G D Weiss/B Thiele) 4.26
Stacey Kent - voice
Graham Harvey - piano and Fender Rhodes;
John Parricelli - guitars
Dave Chamberlain - double bass
Matt Skelton - drums and percussion
Jim Tomlinson - tenor sax, alto sax, soprano sax, flute
Recorded at Curtis Schwartz Studios, England, March - April 2007. Recorded and mixed by Curtis Schwartz. Mastered by Curtis Schwartz.
Produced by Jim Tomlinson for Token Productions.
All arrangements by Jim Tomlinson.