Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Chanteuse and jazz proficient Kristen Lee Sergeant celebrates the release of a new CD.

By: Apr. 06, 2022
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Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Kristen Lee Sergeant

Falling

Joe's Pub at The Public Theater

March 31, 2022

By Andrew Poretz

Jazz chanteuse, songwriter, and arranger Kristen Lee Sergeant made her first live appearance in several years at Joe's Pub tonight, to celebrate the release of her new album, Falling. Ms. Sergeant, whose first two studio albums earned a Downbeat Magazine Editor's Pick, presented the bulk of "Falling" tonight. With one exception, every song in the well-paced, 11-song set is also on the album, with all but two written by the artist.

Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Ms. Sergeant is not your usual jazz singer. You won't hear vocal gymnastics or scat singing, though her timbre is warm and her flexible phrasing takes her where her instincts tell her to go. Classically trained, she has been described as a "conceptual artist" by author and producer Kabir Seghal. The artist brings a unique feeling of musical exploration to her concerts. She has the vocal ability to follow wherever that exploration might take her, as well as the audience. Her opening song, "Let's Fall," was an invitation to take a journey of descent, to travel down the rabbit hole, before moving on to "Break," a song not from the album. The lyrics persistently remind us that there is "nowhere to go but down." The very rhythmic tune was more pop than jazz. When the cello and double-bass were both bowed in unison, it reminded this writer of The Beatles' "Within You Without You."

Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz A pair of songs in the set involved Greek mythology songs referencing descent, including "Sisyphus," the king of Corinth who was condemned to the eternal punishment of forever rolling a boulder up a hill in the depths of Hades, only to have it fall down before reaching the top, and "Orpheus," the Greek myth that is the plot of Broadway's Hadestown. The star asked, "If the Gods can be seduced out of their decisions, how can you trust them to keep their word?" The lovely Ms. Sergeant, discussing her penchant for Greek mythology, looked for all the world like a Greek Goddess herself, appearing statuesque, dressed in a black, floor-length outfit, a great head of curly blonde hair, sparkling blue-grey eyes, and with nearly alabaster skin. Guest Ted Nash, on soprano sax, contributed greatly here with a sizzling solo.

Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz

Sure, you get more flies with honey, but then, who wants flies? That's the musical question Ms. Sergeant asks in "Honey," a clever, funny song sung in full voice with great phrasing. Here, Hannah Marks's strong bass playing drove the action.

Later in the set, Ms. Sergeant called Mr. Nash back for "Infinity Blues," an "outer space" song she wrote after meeting an astronaut. Nash's spacey intro seemed to allude to "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (in turn an allusion to "2001: A Space Odyssey"), a brilliant means of musically introducing the concept of Infinity, before briefly becoming a traditional blues. The bass and cello were plucked in unison at one point, an interesting effect, after which Ms. Sergeant sonically blasted off, her voice soaring, as if it were shooting past the Van Allen Belt, and she reached a stratospheric note that gave quite a rise to the Joe's Pub audience.

Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz "Autumn Nocturne" (Josef Myrow, Kim Gannon) is a traditional, old-school song from 1941, complete with a verse. Here, the star revealed another aspect of her voice, a stunning sound.

Ms. Sergeant would have left the audience quite content with only her original compositions, but she closed out her performance with the only jazz standard in the set, "That Old Black Magic" (Harold Arlen, Johnny Mercer), with a big finish. Sergeant has no upcoming dates at this venue but will be at Birdland on May 12, 2022, and at Minton's Harlem on June 17, 2022. This artist will not disappoint.

Piano: Jeb Patton

Drums: Jay Sawyer

Double bass: Hannah Marks

Cello: Jody Redhage

Saxophone: Ted Nash

Photos courtesy of Lydia Liebman.

For more great shows at Joe's Pub, visit the Joe's Pub website HERE.

More information about Kristen Lee Sergeant can be found at the Kristen Lee Sergeant website HERE. She can be followed on Twitter @kristenlserg, and her Instagram page is @klsergeant.

Review: Kristen Lee Sergeant FALLING at Joe's Pub by Guest Reviewer Andrew Poretz Andrew Poretz, "The Boulevardier of Broadway," is an entertainer (singer, guitarist, ukulele player and storyteller), producer, and a reviewer of jazz and cabaret shows, primarily for Theater Pizzazz. An early podcaster, his "Coaches' Corner on BlogTalkRadio" segments are still available on iTunes. Andrew has performed in prominent venues throughout New York and the Bay Area. Andrew is also a board member of The American Popular Song Society. His blog, "The Boulevardier," can be found at www.andrewporetz.com



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