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Sarah McKenzie swings but the thing she's counting on is songwriting / DOWNBEAT

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Headlining a Monday night show at New York's Blue Note, the blond-haired, blue-eyed singer-pianist took the stage with her all-male quartet. With no chit-chat, and just a nod and smile at the audience, she launched into "You And The Music," a newly minted original. Four more of her own tunes-she writes both music and lyrics-would follow, before she played her first standard of the show, Jerome Kern's "The Way You Look Tonight." The set conveyed Sarah McKenzie's priorities as an artist, reinforced during an interview a few days later at her Manhattan hotel: Although she sings and plays with swinging assurance, the thing that she's counting on to distinguish herself is her songwriting. 

Sarah McKenzie's new work, San Francisco–Paris Of The West, will have its world premiere at the Bay Area's Lesher Center for the Arts on Sept. 14. (Photo: Philippe Lévy-Stab)

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