By Scott Yanow | Published June 2019
Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, a former Berklee student, and a resident at times of Paris and London, Sarah McKenzie has developed into a talented pianist, vocalist and songwriter.
As a singer, McKenzie has a light, airy voice that’s slightly reminiscent of Peggy Lee. And on Secrets Of My Heart, she shows that she’s flexible enough to credibly interpret a slow, solo version of “You Must Believe In Spring,” as well as Dinah Washington’s bluesy “Come On Home.”
Her singing and playing are enjoyable enough, but McKenzie’s main significance in the long run could be her songwriting. While “De Nada” is perhaps too close for comfort to Jobim’s “So Danço Samba,” “You And The Music” is a happy love song, “My True Love Is You” is a memorable medium-slow ballad, she sings the speedy lyrics of the bossa “Till The End Of Time” effortlessly, and the title track, with its effective melody and slightly downbeat message, could catch on with others in the future.
The diverse, but unified, program, which also includes the offbeat opener “You Only Live Twice” (from the James Bond movie) and an instrumental four-song Gershwin medley, is sprinkled with welcome solos by guitarist Dan Wilson and tenor saxophonist Troy Roberts that accentuate McKenzie’s warm vocals.
Secrets Of My Heart: You Only Live Twice; You And The Music; De Nada; Secrets Of My Heart; It’s All About Love; Till The End Of Time; You Must Believe In Spring; A Beautiful Friendship; I Fell In Love With You; Come On Home; My True Love Is You; The Gershwin Medley: Rhapsody In Blue/Summertime/The Man I Love/I Got Rhythm. (58:04)
Personnel: Sarah McKenzie, vocals, piano; Dan Wilson, guitar; Pierre Boussaguet, bass; Donald Edwards, drums; Troy Roberts (5, 6), tenor saxophone; Jody Redhage-Ferber (1, 4, 6), cello; Warren Wolf (1), vibes; Rogerio Bocatto (3, 6), James Mack (4), percussion.