February 12, 2014 at 11:50 PM
WEST ORANGE, NJ - When other kids were singing nursery rhymes, Sarah Partridge was humming "Lush Life." Growing up in Boston and attending high school in Alabama, Partridge's Dad exposed her to jazz at an early age. Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and Chris Connor were among her early influences.
At 7 p.m., Sunday night, February 16, she will present a concert entitled, "I'll Take Romance," part of the "Music in the Moonlight" jazz series at the Luna Stage in West Orange. Partridge was the featured performer in the initial Luna Jazz concert in November 2011, and she returns two days after Valentine's Day with "a journey of love songs from the Great American Songbook...and beyond."
Allmusic.com's Scott Yanow describes Partridge as "a first-class jazz singer," adding that she makes the songs she sings "sound as if they were written for her. She has a strong voice, is able to scat effectively and, even when singing the words fairly straight, adds constant creativity." The New York Times' Stephen Holden believes Partridge's voice suggests "an unlkely fusion of Nanette Fabray and Anita O'Day: Ms. Fabray for the upbeat talky quality of her enunciation . . . and Ms. O'Day for the bedrock swing propelling her scat improvisations."
Partridge started out as an actress, appearing as the babysitter opposite Tom Cruise in the movie, Risky Business. She was pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles when she sang "Summertime" in a karaoke contest and was signed by an agent who assumed she was a professional jazz singer.
At Luna, she will be accompanied on piano by Tomoko Ohno, who was born in Tokyo but moved to the United States in 1990 to enter the jazz studies program at William Paterson University in Wayne. Ohno, according to the Star-Ledger, "plays a mean piano. She can make any piece of music come to life." Allmusic.com's Michael G. Nastos calls Ohno's playing "quite extraordinary, her talent brimming with the vim and vigor that suggest the virtuosity of Oscar Peterson."
The Luna Stage is located at 555 Valley Road. Admission to the concert is $18 in advance; $20 at the door. For more information, log onto www.lunastage.org or call (973) 395-5551.