On the night of Thursday, February 22, the latest offering in the TD Jazz Series at Arts Commons brought some much-needed warmth to Calgary on a cold winter’s night.
From the moment you entered the main foyer of the hall, Al Muirhead’s deft handling of his well-loved trumpet welcomed you. His depth of talent was evident as he joked about learning to play the Base Trumpet that he found so long ago. Tickling the ivories to accompany him, was Egor Ukoloff, whose own story is one worthy of its own article sometime. The duet’s performance, a perfect accompaniment to the pre-show drinks as the gathering crowd waited the entering the auditorium for the main act.
Jack Singer Hall, lit up in cool blues to cast the spell of the evening, welcomed multi-platinum album artist, internationally celebrated, and Grammy award-winning, Stacey Kent with warm applause. Her pixie-like appearance, dressed in a silver jacket, like the crooners of old, belied her deep warm tones and the exquisiteness of her voice.
An evening-long story of love, loss, and travel, was woven from song to song, taking the audience along for a unique and emotional ride; the set lists chosen from requests from the audience through social media as well as from some of Stacey’s own old favourites and some of her new offerings.
Even when singing in French and Portuguese, where few in the audience could understand each word sung, Stacey and her 4-man band took you along for a magical trip where each nuance was felt without any translation required.
Obvious was the respect and warmth felt between the members of the ensemble. Stacey’s generosity of spirit showing by making sure to highlight everyone’s incredible and multiple talents in their support of her voice and talent, evident with every time she stepped out of the spotlight during the evening.
The audience was happily taken on this wonderful journey. Toes tapping, fingers snapping, couples putting their arms around each other, and those up in the higher seats, leaning as far forward as they could go to be further enraptured by the performance.
Although in a massive hall, the night was intimate, and only missing the cocktail tables and the smoke of jazz clubs of old.
To end the night, Stacey pulled the audience into her world, had them singing, and left every single person in attendance humming her music as they went bravely back into the cold night, their hearts and souls a little warmer than they were before.
Review by Kathy Chyla with Images by Adriana Malinowska