PEREZ JAZZ Jazz Singer ● Lyricist ● Artist

Jazz Singer ● Lyricist ● Artist
It’s Happenin’
Diana Perez
ZOHO Records
"Harlem-born Diana Perez's circuitous path to a
jazz singing began in L.A., where she relocated in
her teens to pursue a career in art and design.
While in the City of Angels, she learned to
appreciate Coltrane, Parker, Evans, Mingus and
Baker. But it was her love for Abbey Lincoln and
Nina Simone that prompted the untrained youngster
to alter her professional course. She hitched and
hiked her way to Europe, spent a decade honing
her craft, self-produced two albums for Holland's
Timeless label and landed back in her native
Manhattan. Now, with the release of her third disc,
she's dropped the "Diana" and is simply Perez.
Stanley Crouch describes her as "the real thing," and indeed she is: pure-voiced and free of
affectations, with a round, robust sound as sparkling and fresh as iced Perrier yet as dense and
rich as darkest espresso. On past albums, she has mixed covers and originals. This time
around, she sticks exclusively to time-honored classics, handling everything from the tricky
curves of "Milestones" and boppin' bounce of "Farmer's Market" to the slowly unraveling
uncertainty of "Detour Ahead" and haunted otherworldliness of "Nature Boy" with aplomb.
Through it all, Perez remains the sturdy maypole around which several fine-spirited players
dance, with pianist David Hazeltine, trombonist Steve Davis, trumpeter Ron Horton and
saxophonist/flautist Jed Levy each adding his particular brand of spice to this satisfying olio."
-Christopher Loudon, JazzTimes
It’s Happenin’ (Zoho – 200803) is the third recording from vocalist PEREZ, and it is a very hip
outing. Perez is originally from New York City, but has lived on the West Coast, and in Europe,
where she got her start as a jazz vocalist. Now back in New York City, she surrounded herself
with a super group of musicians for her first release on a U.S. label. The cats supporting her on
It’s Happenin’ are Steve Davis on trombone, Ron Horton on trumpet, Jed Levy on tenor sax and
flute, David Hazeltine on piano, Nat Reeves on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. She opens
with the lyrics that British jazz singer Anita Wardell penned for Herbie Hancock’s “Will You Still Be
There.” This immediately gives notice that this is a lady who is full of jazz roots. If there are any
doubts left, all you have to do is go to track five and hear how she handles the Annie Ross lyrics
on “Farmers Market,” a classic from Art Farmer, or you might try track seven where she assuredly
assays the words that Giacomo Gates laid on “Milestones.” There are also some standards
along the way like “Blame It on My Youth.” “In the Wee Small Hours,” “Detour Ahead,” “Nature
Boy” and “Perdido.” Perez is an assertive vocalist, with strong pipes, and a knowing way with a
lyric. Simply said, she is the kind of singer that one rarely encounters these days, one who
shows no signs of having been influenced by rock, “American Idol” histrionics, or singersongwriter style super sensitivity, only a real feeling for jazz and how to use that sensibility as a
singer. It’s Happenin’ is definitely happenin’.
PEREZ JAZZ - Reviews
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Joe Lang, December issue of Jersey Jazz
Perez has a lovely rich voice, and this CD benefits greatly from a wide variety of material, ranging
from "Blame It On My Youth" and "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning," ballad classics that
deserve to be reimagined often, to "Corcovado" sung in its original language, and Jazz classics
by Hancock, Davis, and Art Farmer with new lyrics. She has a clear dramatic presence and varies
her presentation to suit her material—a perky "Farmers Market" gives way to a dark "Detour
Ahead." Perez is a compelling singer, aided here by splendid accompanists and Jed Levy's
wonderful flute playing. She is a singer well worth noticing.
-Bob Rusch, Cadence Magazine
"Perez has low honest smoky tones at the bottom of her voice that make you listen to her heart.
She grows with every new undertaking and each performance is better than the last."
- Bertha Hope
"Perez's third CD is her first opportunity to record for a U.S. label, in the company of fellow New
Yorkers for this engaging session. The rich-toned alto has a touch of vibrato at the end of her
phrases in 'Will You Still Be There,' a hip vocal version of Herbie Hancock's song. She is very
focused in the breezy samba setting of the bittersweet 'Blame It on My Youth.' She masters Annie
Ross' vocalese set to Art Farmer's 'Farmers Market,' with delightful accompaniment by pianist
David Hazeltine and flutist Jed Levy, while she also excels in Giacomo Gates' vocalese rendition
of Miles Davis' 'Milestones,' featuring trombonist Steve Davis to good effect. Her moving 'Detour
Ahead' has an air of hope, while the imaginative scoring of 'Nature Boy' keeps it from getting
predictable. An excellent date by a jazz vocalist deserving of wider recognition."
-Ken Dryden,
"Diana Perez is the new voice of this bunch, in spite of the fact she has been actively performing
as both actor and vocalist for several years. Perez (now the single moniker) has joined forces
with Zoho Music and its considerable talent pool to produce the richly entertaining and pleasantly
surprising It's Happenin'.
It's Happenin' is populated with not-so-standard standards offering a striking comparison to the
"standard" fare of many vocal recordings. While this does not make Perez's effort superior to an
assembly of warhorses, it does make it more compelling and interesting. And then there is that
Perez's voice is a humidly sensual work of art: a perfectly formed alto with a solid bottom, a broad
midrange of consistent density, and a confident top. This voice permits Perez to sing whatever
she damn well pleases...and to sing it well. The listener need not cue up more than the disc's two
vocalese pieces: the Annie Ross vehicle "Farmer's Market" and Giacomo Gates adaptation of
Miles Davis' "Milestones" to hear that the "new thing" in jazz vocals has arrived.
Perez's band is sharp, particularly drummer Joe Farnsworth, who brings a big band sound to her
sensible combo. He plays sensitively on the Bill Evans' piece "Detour Ahead," adapted by Perez
from the classic Live At The Village Vanguard, which also sports a nifty flute solo by Jed Levy."
- C. Michael Bailey, All About Jazz
"O's Notes: Perez is a new name on the New York jazz scene but she's been fascinating jazz
audiences in Europe for over 10 years and has two prior releases in the Netherlands. This is her
Zoho debut consisting of nine freshly arranged standards. Perez has a strong voice rich with
PEREZ JAZZ - Reviews
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color. She engages her band well throughout the set. David Hazeltine (p), Joe Farnsworth (d) and
Nat Reeves (b) are among the very talented team on It's Happenin'. 'Blame It On My Youth' is a
pleasant tune with nice accents from John Levy on flute. Perez takes her time with 'Corcovado'
allowing all of the sentiment to flow. We like her style."
-D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter
"Perez, la cantante simplemente conocida por el mas abundante apellido de la lengua castellana,
es islena por los cuatro costado. No es que sea oriunda de las Canarias, sino que se trata de
una nativa de Manhattan cuyos antepasados emigraron de otras islas (Puerto Rico, Cuba e
Irlanda). En el CD "It's Happenin'"--su tercera grabacion en solitario (y su debut con el sello
Zoho)--Perez despliega sus elocuentes y persuasivas vocalizaciones, acompanadas por media
docenas de especialistas neoyorquinos del idioma straight ahead, a traves de una coleccion que
consiste mayormente de estandares extraidos del "gran cancionero estadounidense" y que han
sido engalanados, en esta ocasion, con novedosos arreglos. No se por que oculta su nombre de
pila, pero debo admitir que el swing de la tal Perez esta hecho perentoriamente a la perfeccion."
-Latin Beat Magazine
"Her recent date at Smoke was filled to capacity, as she demonstrated a fresh perspective to
some well-traveled tunes. Her renditions of "Detour Ahead" and "Nature Boy" stood out.
Perez has her own style, a sultry voice, that can't be compared to other singers."
- Ron Scott, Amsterdam News
“In the category of female jazz singers with single-name recognition, Perez is coming on strong.
'It's Happenin'' (Zoho), her third album, is an unpretentious affair that features her sextet almost
as much as it features her.
There are brief, mood-setting arrangements and plenty of inspired instrumental solos, no doubt
elicited by the quality of her singing and the quality of the songs, standards such as 'Blame It on
My Youth,' 'Corcovado,' 'In the Wee Small Hours' and 'Detour Ahead.'
Perez has a natural way of singing, reminiscent of Anita O'Day. She never strains after mood and
feeling. They're inherent in her musical understanding.
Of course, it helps to have pianist David Hazeltine (good drive, rich block chords) backing her,
along with bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth. The horn players -- trumpeter Ron
Horton, trombonist Steve Davis and tenor saxophonist and flutist Jed Levy -- sometimes appear
en masse on a track, as on the atmospheric introduction to 'Nature Boy,' and sometimes singly.
Diana Perez grew up in New York, moved to Los Angeles when she was 17, discovered jazz,
spent a decade in Europe (where she performed regularly at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam) and
returned home to New York. She's the kind of singer the band can like as well as the audience.”
- Owen Cordle, The News & Observer, NC
"Harlem born vocalist Perez offers her talents as a storyteller with this third CD, a collection of
well chosen standards and jazz classics that show off fine vocal abilities.
Perez possesses a rich full-bodied voice with capable intonation and shading and a gift for
Her material includes (among other standards) this years very much recorded 'Nature Boy' done
with a Latin feel and 'Blame It On My Youth'; both done simply with attention to the stories. There
is also 'Detour Ahead', a song famously featured as an instrumental on Bill Evans 'Recorded Live
At The Village Vanguard' album but seldom done with the lyrics. Perez is very much at ease with
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two vocalese-type songs 'Farmers Market' and 'Milestones' (with lyrics by Annie Ross on the
former and Giacomo Gates on the later).
Although this CD is a studio recording, there is a feel akin to a live performance. There is a great
deal of instrumental presence and particularly notable is Levy's flute work on 'Detour Ahead' and
Horton's fiery trumpet on Milestones. For the liner notes Perez has made comments on her
choices of material and her feelings about the songs. This CD is a tasteful package both vocally
and instrumentally and insures future storytelling by the vocalist."
- Marcia Hillman, Allaboutjazz, NY
“Badda boom-Badda Bing!! What a sensational group.....What a stalwart singer. Jazz singer
'Perez' %26 group take on the American songbook %26 nail it they do! This band %26 singer
bring color, texture %26 themes of originality to our senses, %26 is certainly artistically fertile as
well. Adaptability, great solos, %26 timely/tasteful renditions also help to enhance the combined
group's work. As for Perez's vocalise, she exhibits a strong sense of bebop in her delivery
personified by her storng, flexible, swinging style. Her voice offers us a witty, melodic, %26
exploratory musical commentary.”
- George W. Carroll, The Musicians' Ombudsman
“Probably a pal of Dutch jazz great Saskia Laroo, this Harlem born jazz singer split for LA at 17
where she sung until splitting for Amsterdam for ten years and working her way around the cool
jazz scene in town. Now back state side, she rounded up some solid New York cats that can play
it old Verve/Blue Note style and a good time is had by all. Fun jazz vocal set with a lot of
instrumental stretching out that simply leaves you feeling good.”
- Chris Spector, Editor and Publisher, Midwest Record
''Love it. Perez straight ahead''
- Annie Ross
“New York native Diana Perez is a remarkable artist blessed with a strong expansive contralto
voice that sets her apart from the myriad of female jazz vocalists producing new recordings
almost daily. Releasing her third album and first on the ZOHO label, "It's Happenin'" features a
repertoire taken from the Great American Songbook cast in new exciting arrangements and
performed with a cadre of luminaries from the top echelon of New York's vibrant jazz scene.
This is one of those rare jazz vocal albums where the vocalist surrounds herself with such an
impressive musical support that the excellent instrumentals and solos almost outshine the singer
herself. Perez is clearly the leader here but the play from pianist David Hazeltine, reed man Jed
Levy and Joe Farnsworth on the drums, is superb. Rounding out the personnel is bassist Nat
Reeves, trombonist Steve Davis and trumpeter Ron Horton.
The lady begins the program with a sultry voicing of Herbie Hancock's "Will You Still Be There"
aided by appreciable horn play from Horton. On "Blame It On My Youth" the singer draws
inspiration from personal experience and a difficult childhood to sing the lyrics. Hazeltine shines
on this one with accompaniment from Levy on a fine flute foray.
I believe the late Antonio Carlos Jobim would be pleased with Perez's rendition of his immortal
classic, "Corcovado" where Perez voices lyrics in Portuguese. Hazeltine provides new
arrangements of several tunes that take advantage of the singer's vocal reach and providing a
nice musical marriage with the band's instrumentals. This is the case on "Milestones," Eden
Ahbez's oft heard standard, "Nature Boy," and Juan Tizol's "Perdido," made famous by the
Ellington orchestra.
No question about this one folks, "It's Happen'" is where it's happening if you're looking for a firstrate jazz vocals recording. Diana Perez delivers an enticing performance using lush vocals in
mesmerizing fashion. Equally formidable is the sparkling play from the band that distinguishes
themselves with exciting solos and excellent musicianship.”
- Edward Blanco,
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Jazz Singer ● Lyricist ● Artist
Sunday Sketches
Diana Perez
Timeless Records
"In an era with an overabundance of female vocalists who
keep the band in the background, trading more on image
than voice, Diana Perez is a refreshing change, keeping
her voice honest and involving her band an integral part
of the music. In the quintet of Bill Gerhardt (piano), Masa
Kamaguchi (bass), Tony Moreno (drums), Ron Horton
(trumpet) and Jed Levy (trumpet and flute), Perez has
chosen musicians who are keenly able to perceive her
moods. They take their cues, echo, explore, unravel and
add breadth to the vocals - but also palpate and prod
Perez forward as she artfully portrays these Sunday
"A sense of pathos, due to both Perez's easy delivery of lyrics about love and loneliness and the
rich timbre of her voice, infuses even the more upbeat tunes, resulting in a strong conceptual feel
throughout. This is likewise reinforced by the wonderful way her voice can become part of the
band, blending with trumpet, piano or sax for a sensual harmonic experience. On her original "Do
I Dare," she sets a mood of uncertainty as her voice echoes sax and vice versa, whereas
"Sunday in New York" paints both a vocal and instrumental picture of the special atmosphere that
occurs during the quietest time in our city that never sleeps.
"The multiple Brazilian numbers exquisitely suit the atmosphere. On Jobim's "Useless
Landscape," Levy's flute and Moreno's brushes set a tropical vibe for Perez to deliver her
poignant message, "Pretty World" includes beautiful brass/vocal voicings, and Luiz Bonfa's
masterpiece "Black Orpheus" is here gorgeously restyled with emphasis on flute, bass and
percussion. "Something Cool" is an emotive showcase for both Horton and Perez that brings to
mind a time when a vocal release was as memorable for the voice as it was for the interplay with
a trumpeter like Clifford Brown, Kenny Dorham or Art Farmer.
"A strong session all the way round."
- Elliott Simon, All About Jazz
"It always takes a special bravery to become a jazz singer. One must believe in the art of
improvisation, mastering the beat, and emoting beyond the call of duty while not sinking down
into sentimentality. Diana Perez is after all of that, which makes her particularly valuable in our
moment. She wants no more than to be the real thing."
- Stanley Crouch
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Jazz Singer ● Lyricist ● Artist
Vol. 28 No.6
June 2002
"For her debut (6) Diana Perez could not have dreamed
of better musical support. Piano player Bill Gerhardt
combines lyrical refinement with the ability to swing,
qualities that ensure why the level of musical invention in
this project remains consistently high. Holland's Marc
Mommaas provides breezy and sensuous tenor work that
build into double-tempo variations to swing "Devil May
Care" and "Star Eyes." Ron Horton's atmospheric trumpet sets the tone for "Wild is the Wind" and
Somewhere in the Night." His double tempo lines in "Holy Land" and the exciting chase with
Mommaas at the climax of "Eva's Tune" number among the passionate highpoints of (6). Perez is
a sophisticated singer but she really ought to avoid torch songs like "Wild is the Wind" and the
ornate and tricky. harmonies of "Star Eyes," as these expose her limitations as a vocalist. While
Anita O'Day could turn comparable flaws into the singular strength of those signature arpeggios,
in complete contrast to her Perez's range sounds pinched into a thin vibrato bleat. That's probably
a harsh call but fortunately Perez gets herself out of these hazardous situations early on. Her
smoky tone sounds much more suited to the potential intricacies of minimalism. This is
emphasized midway through this project when the horn players drop out and Perez is featured in
wonderful duos with Gerhardt (East of the Sun) and Berger (Sugar) while "East of the Sun"
provides an atmospheric showcase for Tony Moreno. Risk is an essential part of the process and
helps to make this honest debut a compelling and remarkable one that sustains a very high
musical standard throughout."
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For booking inquiries:
[email protected]
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