Perez’s vocals are impressive and a departure from the standard vocal conventions that one can hope for. She is interactive with that band. Perez has a solid tone and confident delivery that is recognizable . I enjoy her choice of repertoire and creative way of re-working them. CAMERON BROWN
On her latest release It's Happenin ', vocalist and fashionista Perez presents a sparkling program of jazz classics, smartly arranged and beautifully played by some of the most happenin' musicians on the jazz scene today...HELEN SUNG
Perez was born in Harlem, New York, at 136th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. Her mother was of Cuban Irish decent, a housewife; her Puerto Rican father was a machinist who played congas and guitar in the Navy Big Band. Drawn to music and art from an early age, it was said, that by age four, she would hear a song once and be able to recite the lyrics and melody. Perez attended the High School of Art and Design in Manhattan at the age of 12 and majored in photography, but later focused her energy on vocals as a form of communication.
At the age of 17, she moved to Los Angeles where she worked within the Art and Design world and began her fascination and long romance with jazz. She worked for Cannon films and was being exposed to the Art Director's taste in music. Lucky for her it was Coltrane and Parker! She began to seek out other jazz artists, and fell in love with the music of Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, the cool of Anita O'Day, Shirley Horn, Chet Baker, and Annie Ross. Then hearing the amazing Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone was the final step in the decision to leave the visual world behind and focus on jazz vocals. Perez then moved to Europe and made a conscious decision to focus on a verbal form of communication. She took classes at various schools and conservatories, but also had many lessons from the jazz artists that stayed at her house like Curtis Clark, Anita Wardell, Jan Ponsford and Randy Greer.
Perez became a regular figure at Amsterdam's famous jazz club Bimhuis. When applying to be a member of the Bimhuis, she was asked, “How long have you been involved in improvised music”? Her response was, "6 months after I was born I was placed into a foster home. I have been improvising since then." Establishing her reputation, she ran a weekly session there for a spell and was lucky to appear at festivals on stages across Europe.
After a ten year stay in Europe, she returned to New York City to record two CDs entitled "Seventh Avenue South" and "Sunday Sketches", both released on Timeless Records, a Dutch label. Each recording has some hip standards as well as original tunes.
“It’s Happenin’”, her third CD recording and 2008 ZOHO label debut, is Perez’ collaboration with several of the top New York-based straightahead jazz musicians, featuring tunes from the Great American Songbook in new arrangements. Following are Perez’s comments on her selections :
Will You Still Be There (What If I Don’t ): “Fun Lyrics written by Anita Wardell to a hip tune; Herbie Handcock is one of the top jazz artists of our time, it’s an honor to cover one of his tunes.”
Blame it On My Youth : “I heard this as an instrumental at a gig I had at the Café Alto jazz club in Amsterdam,” comments Perez. “I have loved it ever since.
When I found the music and read the lyrics years later, I really felt connected to it. Having a difficult childhood has made me strong and I have developed a strong sense of true values. When I sing this tune I think of a situation that I faced when I first returned to NYC. I have a strong connection to this tune, as I do all the tunes that I record and perform.”
Corcovado: Jobim's musical roots were planted firmly in the works of Pixinguinha, a legendary Brazilian musician and composer who, in the 1930s, began the development of modern Brazilian music. Jobim was also influenced by the music of French Impressionist composer Claude Debussy and by jazz. Every time I hear Jobims tunes , I envision a first kiss, I envision a sunset on an exotic beach.His compositions always transports me to romantic places." Arrangement Jed Levy.