Stories » What started as a workshop for East Bay kids led to a major commission for Sarah McKenzie / SFCV

Top 10 for Aug

What started as a workshop for East Bay kids led to a major commission for Sarah McKenzie / SFCV

Bookmark and Share

Never underestimate the power of a first impression. For Australian jazz pianist and vocalist Sarah McKenzie, what started as a workshop for underprivileged East Bay kids led to a major commission that heralds her return to the United States as a bright new star.

On Friday, Sept. 14, Walnut Creek's Lesher Center for the Arts presents the premiere of McKenzie's 13-piece song cycle San Francisco - Paris of the West, a work commissioned by the Diablo Regional Arts Association (DRAA). Her all-star octet includes the three co-leaders of the acclaimed Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra - bassist John Clayton, saxophonist Jeff Clayton, and drummer Jeff Hamilton. "It's definitely my most ambitious work to date," says McKenzie, 31, whose 2017 album Paris in the Rain (Impulse!) celebrates the city where she was based for much of 2015–2016. "I always write my own tunes, but on my albums I only include three or four originals. This is the first time I've written all the songs for a project, all the lyrics and arrangements."

READ THE FULL San Francisco Classical Voice ARTICLE