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  • Jonathan Widran

SARAH MCKENZIE, Without You

Multi-talented, delightfully charming and wildly charismatic, veteran vocalist and pianist Sarah McKenzie hails from Australia and lives in L.A., yet her expansive sensibilities, residencies in Paris and London and international tour resume reveals her as a true musical citizen of the world. Her winsome, deeply sensual yet often powerfully swinging sixth album Without You is a long-awaited, full on celebration of her global jazz aesthetic, centered on and driven by her lifelong passion for Brazilian music – especially her deeply spiritual soul connection to the spirit and legacy of Antonio Carlos Jobim.

The generous, expansive 14 track project took root in 2020 when McKenzie recorded a gently caressing version of “Corcovado (Quiet Nights)” with guitarist Romero Lubambo and cellist Jacques Morelenbaum as a trio. The overwhelming response to their Facebook video led them to perform it at several European jazz festivals – and I was able to catch her luminous performance of it as well at Vibrato in Los Angeles.


This evolved into a full-on Jobimfest with additional support from the stellar crew of Peter Erskine (drums), Geoff Gascoyne (bass), Rogerio Boccato (percussion) and Bob Sheppard (flute, sax). Though nine of the tracks feature exquisite arrangements from the sacred and exquisite Jobim canon, Without You is more than simply a tribute album.


It also draws on the legendary composer as a muse who accompanies McKenzie in spirit as she weaves her own compositional artistry through Brazilian styled originals, ranging from the romantic homage “The Voice of Rio” to the witty and whimsical “Quoi Quoi Quoi” and the title cut, an exquisite co-write with and featuring Lubambo. The singer introduces the collection in a unique way as well, opening with the lush and longing Luiz Bonfa tune “The Gentle Rain.”

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