Stacey Kent: Let Yourself Go – Celebrating Fred Astaire

The singer's smooth, honeyed voice flows through this 1999 set recorded when Alan Bates revived the Candid label


Stacey’s straight-ahead approach and accurate interpretation of songs might lead some to believe she is not a jazz singer. She is, though. Her timing and phrasing may be quite subtle, but it puts a jazz slant on everything she sings. The way she flows along with a first-rate jazz combo behind her is another clue.

Putting together an album of tunes associated with Fred Astaire was a good way to produce a programme of some of the very best music in the Great American Songbook or GAS, as it’s known. This music was written for Astaire’s various movies by the likes of Jerome Kern, the Gershwins, Irving Berlin and Schwartz & Dietz, songmasters all.

She kicks off with Let Yourself Go, swinging easily on top of the beat. Her smooth, honeyed voice gives way to Jim Tomlinson’s tenor sax which floats out rather like Lester Young used to do behind Billie Holiday. These two are both life and most certainly musical partners. They Can’t Take That Away is sung as a slow ballad, introduced by Dave Newton’s sparkling piano. Colin Oxley has a neat, melodic, single-line solo on guitar here, which adds to the overall effect.

This is an early Stacey Kent album, dating from 1999 and one of the Candid releases recorded when Alan Bates took over the company. Every track is a gem but particularly those with Stacey and her husband’s tenor sax solos swinging everything along. Listen out also for One For My Baby, where Tomlinson plays lonesome clarinet behind his wife.

Let Yourself Go; They Can’t Take That Away From Me; I Won’t Dance; Isn’t this A Lovely Day; They All Laughed; He Love And She Loves; Shall We Dance; One For My Baby; ’S Wonderful; A Fine Romance; I Guess I’ll Have To Change My Plan; I’m Putting All My Eggs In One Basket; By Myself (54.38)
Kent (v); Jim Tomlinson (ts, cl); Colin Oxley (elg); David Newton (p); Simon Thorpe (b); Steve Brown (d). Ardingly, 26, 27 July 1999.
Candid 33212