Mood Indigo

Stacey Kent

The Changing Lights



‘Devastatingly stylish. A beauty in any circumstance.’

Radiant jazz singer Stacey Kent has been quietly gathering devotees around the world with her impeccable musicality and a hypnotic voice. Stacey’s powerful instrument rarely rises above an intimate murmur. It’s a sound that makes you lean in to hear what she’s confiding, tinged with the mysterious quality of saudade, an expression for bittersweet pangs of nostalgia and heartache.

Stacey Kent has an elegant and understated way with a standard but her voice is delicately devastating in the songs written especially for her by her husband saxophonist/composer Jim Tomlinson and novelist-turned-lyricist Kazuo Ishiguro.

In a Melbourne exclusive, Stacey performs originals and a collection of wistful bossa nova classics featured on her latest acclaimed album, The Changing Lights, a journey through a sad/romantic world of wanderlust and missed connections.

Her fluency in different languages and musical styles translates into a sophisticated stage presence that crosses boundaries, and the musical and emotional chemistry between Stacey and Jim is palpable.

This is a rare chance to be bewitched by a singular musician and her tight-knit band in songs of love beautifully lost and found.

Presented by Melbourne Recital Centre


The biography of Stacey Kent’s ‘The Changing Lights’.

The critic Gilles Tordjman once wrote that Brazil was not a nation, but “a region of the heart, where everything seems to ring to the tune of a stronger and more accurate vibration”. This is a sentence that Stacey Kent could no doubt make her own.

At the age of 14, the American singer discovered the endless charms of the album, Getz / Gilberto, an historic encounter of jazz and bossa nova, after which nothing would ever be the same. Over the course of a musical journey that has wandered freely in the open spaces of jazz and song, Brazil became, in her eyes, more than a country: a kind of internalized poetic horizon, a chosen land on an intimate scale, adjusted to the proportions of her soul, her singing and her inspiration.

Whether she literally celebrates them through covers of Tom Jobim, Sergio Mendes or Luiz Bonfá, or whether she summons the spirit through the finesse of her performances, Stacey Kent has never loosened the emotional ties that bind her to Brazilian music. An eternal student, this well-informed polyglot, with a degree in comparative literature, has followed her passion to the point of learning the Portuguese language and taking an interest in the cultural and political history of the giant auriverde.

It is this passion, made both of depth and lightness, that pervades her tenth album. The Changing Lights is not “Stacey Kent’s Brazilian record”. It is more a recreational break or a sound postcard than a stuffy exercise of style. In collaboration with her partner and husband, the English saxophonist, composer and arranger, Jim Tomlinson, Stacey Kent simply displays all the sensitive qualities of a musician for whom Brazil represents, precisely and foremost, “a region of the heart”.

To do this, the singer, who has lived between England and Colorado for the past two decades, felt no need to go to a studio in Rio de Janeiro. In Sussex, where the recording sessions for The Changing Lights were held, she surrounded herself with her close musical guard – Jim Tomlinson on tenor and soprano saxophones and flute, Graham Harvey on piano, Jeremy Brown on bass, John Parricelli on guitar, Matt Home and Josh Morrison on drums. Roberto Menescal, the legendary Brazilian guitarist and composer, also lent his talent to two tracks on the album. In this good company, she was immersed in the turbulent and welcoming water of a feeling that is very familiar to her: the sumptuously volatile mixture of happiness and sadness that answers to the bittersweet name, saudade.

“Especially on this record, and in my musical world in general, this word is my cornerstone”, says the singer. “It has no equivalent in other languages, and Brazilian music has given it a unique flavour. But what it refers to is a universal feeling, which belongs to the human condition: a vague nostalgia directed towards what one has lost as well as towards what one has never had nor experienced. Here, I am thinking about the lyrics of the song, Samba Saravah (Samba de Benção): – Mas pra fazer um samba com beleza, é preciso um bocado de tristeza. But to make a beautiful samba, a little sadness is needed. -That is the atmosphere that we wanted to create on The Changing Lights; on that spiritual and emotional level, this is a profoundly Brazilian record.”

Click here to read more about The Changing Lights.