Album of the Week – ‘Paris in the Rain’ Sarah McKenzie
After enchanting jazz fans with her 2015 Impulse! Records debut, We Could Be Lovers, Sarah McKenzie returns with the sensational follow-up, Paris in the Rain. Like before, the 28-year-old, Melbourne, Australia-born singer, pianist, composer and arranger teams with the acclaimed Brian Bacchus – who has produced classics for such stars as Norah Jones, Lizz Wright, and Gregory Porter – to deliver a gripping program of jazz classics and originals – all of which present McKenzie’s incredible musicality in glamorous glory.
Sarah McKenzie is an Australian jazz pianist, composer, vocalist, and bandleader whose breezy technical style, songwriting acumen, and pronounced lyrical sense of swing have drawn comparisons to Blossom Dearie and Diana Krall. McKenzie grew up in Perth and began playing piano at the age of nine. After graduating from West Australian Academy of Performing Arts, the same institution that gave rise to such talents as Hugh Jackman, Marcus Graham, and Lisa McCune, she attended college and completed a Bachelor of Jazz degree in composition, won the Jack Bendat Scholarship, the Hawaiian Award for “Most Outstanding Jazz Graduate.” Since that time, McKenzie has recorded three albums, gaining worldwide fame with her 2012’s Closed Your Eyes, spreading her reputation beyond Australia’s shore. Always studying, she won that same year a scholarship to the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied with Joanne Brackeen and earned an Artist’s Diploma in Jazz Performance. She finally come back for our great pleasure with a brand new record, Paris in the Rain.
The album’s snazzy title track is her love letter to the City of Light, Paris where she moved after graduating. The fanciful lyrics find her alternating effortlessly between French and English as she rejoices in the city’s opulent offerings. “I’m really in love with Paris. It’s a really amazing city. It’s so beautiful with so much to offer in terms of culture, food and style. I wanted to write a song that captures all of Paris’ beauty, magic and spirit.” Overall, the album’s theme centers on McKenzie’s journey from Australia to America and her trips throughout Europe as a performing artist. She exemplifies the loose theme with the telling choices of songs such as Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh’s “When in Rome,” (her visit to Italy) Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Triste” (for her time in Portugal),” Vincent Youmans and Irving Caesar’s “Tea for Two” (for London).” The travelogue theme rings the loudest on album’s closer, “Road Chops,” an ebullient original that evokes the brisling giddiness of exploring the globe; the instrumental also showcases McKenzie command at the piano.
Sophisticated originals steeped in the Great American Songbook tradition energize much of Paris in the Rain. In addition to the title track and “Road Chops,” she penned three other superb originals. The bluesy “One Jealous Moon” demonstrates her meticulous word play as she sublimely uses the numbers: 1,2,3,4 throughout in the song’s poetic lyrics; the song also features a stellar tenor saxophone solo from Moore. McKenzie’s haunting ballad “Don’t Be a Fool” conveys a melancholic allure as she slowly sings of treacherous romance and seduction; Warren Wolf’s striking vibraphone chords in unison with the piano accentuate the composition’s suspense. Later in the song, he delivers a rueful solo. With “Onward and Upward,” McKenzie pays tribute to Nat King Cole with a spry original teeming with optimistic lyrics about embarking on new adventures; she also tickles a spiffy blues-laden piano solo while Baum and Farinacci too yield effervescent asides. Once again, Sarah McKenzie offers us the best of her art with this incredible new album, that will lead you in the street of Paris. A must hear that you’ll be able to listen on Eastside Radio.
1.Tea For Two
2. Paris In The Rain
3. One Jealous Moon
4. Little Girl Blue
5. Im Old Fashioned
6. When In Rome
8. Embraceable You
9. In The Name Of Love
10. Dont Be A Fool
11. Onwards And Upwards
12. Day In Day Out
13. Road Chops
You can follow Sarah McKenzie’s news at sarahmckenzie.info or via thier FACEBOOK page. For an extended listen to the album, tune in on Thursday from 1.30PM – 2PM for ‘Album of the Week’ with Josh Crosbie. Don’t forget to also listen out for your opportunity to win a copy of ‘Time is Golden’’ all week. You must be a supporter to win so make sure to sign up at http://eastsidefm.org/support-us-2/. You can also stream the station at WWW.EASTSIDEFM.ORG