Let It Happen
All About Jazz / Tom Pierce
A major test of any new recording is whether it avoids a “been there, done that” sound. Sonny and Perley’s third release, Let It Happen, consistently escapes this trap, with three numbers (“Estate,” “Scarborough Fair” and “Hymne l’Amour”) particularly illustrating this fact.
This husband-wife team has long been both impressive and popular as performers of Brazilian favorites, jazz classics and Great American Songbook standards in the upstate New York and New England area. They brightly meld lyricism, passion, and rhythm in a way that is both rich and exotic. Let It Happen extends the jazz/Brazilian repertoire of their previous two releases to include superior pop tunes (“Scarborough Fair” and “Up On the Roof”), as well as two haunting songs of French origin–Edith Piaf’s “Hymne a l‘Amour” and Liane Foly’s “Reve Orange.”
“Estate” (”Summer”), which has become a contemporary standard favored by many jazz and Brazilian vocalists, serves as a test of Perley Rousseau’s ability to distinctively interpret even familiar material. Her heartfelt reading of both the English and Italian lyrics almost redefines poignancy. Sonny Daye’s spare electric keyboards, the throbbing bass lines of pianist Bill Charlap’s talented brother Tom, and the delicate flute of Charlie Tokarz, all engagingly accented and colored by the various percussion instruments of Brian Melick, set the exotic atmosphere the song calls for. This number also strikes a successful balance between extending a song long enough to allow an engaging groove to be played out, but not so long the listener loses interest.
The ability to personalize a song is even better illustrated with “Scarborough Fair.” Their arrangement of this old English folk tune is markedly different than Simon and Garfunkel’s and includes the touching medieval prose, delivered in an alternating tender and commanding fashion by Ms. Rousseau. Likewise, the ability to sustain musical and emotional appeal over an extended time is again demonstrated in the effectively dramatic way the song slowly builds to a spellbinding resolution over nine minutes.
Lastly, “Hymne a l’Amour”, which is usually sung in this country in English, merits special mention. Ms. Rousseau sings an appropriately heartbreaking rendition (including the original French lyrics) of this as “Hymne a l’Amour” (”Hymn of Love”), written by renowned French singer Edith Piaf–her grieving tribute to her lost love, boxer Marcel Cerdan, whose plane crashed on his way to see her. The nexus of art and emotion are joined in an exceptional way in this material.
The Jazz Observer
Singers Worth a Listen to
By Tom Pierce
Melodic, rhythmic and sensual represent frequent descriptions of the very special married team of keyboardist Sonny Daye and vocalist Perley Rousseau, one of the most popular and exciting musical attractions in the Capitol District.
They engagingly perform the timeless standards of the great American songbook composers like Irving Berlin and the Gershwins, compelling jazz classics by legends like Charlie Parker and John Coltrane as well as irresistible Brazilian melodies by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Ivan Lins, among others.
Perley’s beautifully rich voice, with the emotional power, swing and improvisational feel of a true jazz singer, also enunciates English lyrics with bell like clarity and Portuguese lyrics with an authenticity that leads Brazilians hearing their CD’s to mistake her for a native. She does all this with a captivating effervescence and saucy stage presence, effectively accented by an intriguing assortment of exotic instruments.
Sonny’s very facile, slightly percussive keyboard work and appealing arrangements are also key components of their crowd pleasing presentation. Depending on the venue, they sometimes also utilize the extraordinary percussionist Brian Melick, with his dozens of fascinating instruments, or an excellent compliment of musicians on bass, drums and saxophone to create an even fuller array of possible dynamics, colors and shadings.
“It’s amazing, Perley scats like Ella, handles a lyric like Carmen McRae, has a voice quality down in there like Billie-you know that huskiness- and yet she sounds like nobody but herself…It’s really an inimitable style…”
Paul Elisha / Performance Place WAMC
“An evening with Sonny & Perley is an evening that feeds the soul yearning for the pleasure, beauty and sheer delight that only music and song can offer.”
Francis Gargani/ Cabaret at The Mount
“Rousseau’s voice is like vanilla pudding. Daye is a creative and versatile jazz pianist”
The Woodstock Times
“Compelling…a wonderful example of Jazz and Bossa Nova at it’s finest”
The Bennington Banner
“What an exciting band!…Their CD is excellent!”
Jim Wilke/ Jazz After Hours/ NPR, PRI
“Live performance is where Sonny & Perley really shine…from a swinging jazz standard to a poignant French love song, the duo’s interpretations are deeply intelligent, filled with eloquence and humor…They share a warmth with the audience that embraces their highly developed musical talents and the gift of truly listening to the heartbeat of the world”
The Hidden River Review
“Perley is a supersongstress. She has a beautiful, smoky-low to middle/upper register voice, wonderful intonation, and stage presence. The sky is her limit.”
“To their Brazilian and American fans alike, Sonny & Perley have a style that is as irresistible and authentic as the Ipanema girl herself”
The Post Star
“Sonny and Perley, a tight jazz duo with richly varied musical turf”
The Hartford Courant
“A Jazz group that can really swing… stellar piano work…Fresh, soaring and strong vocals striking memories of Sarah Vaughn or Carmen McRae”
The Daily Freeman Preview
“They deliver the goods….”
Seven Days Weekly
“Harbingers of aesthetic jazz…and romanticism”
“Sonny and Perley brightly meld lyricism, passion, and rhythm in a way that is both rich and exotic…The nexus of art and emotion are joined in an exceptional way”
All About Jazz
“Beautiful arrangements with a voice like silk”
Cabaret at the Mount
“Sonny and Perley know their way around what is usually called the Great American Songbook. Sometimes they play straight jazz; sometimes they play Latin inflected jazz. Either way, when they perform the works of Porter. Ellington, or Berlin, they create something lovely to listen to”
“Honest straight up music with no pretense. Sonny and Perley work their gifts and make their magic in front of and behind the microphone”
The Poughkeepsie Journal
“What Sonny and Perley offer is love, pure and simple…and they weave a tapistry of affection among their audience such that a real sense of community and beauty results.”
Cabaret at the Mount
“It is Rousseau’s charismatic presence with that gorgeous and powerful voice that gives the music life and gusto, making tunes written in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s both relevant and contemporary. The lady sure knows how to be belt it out when needed and then, a split-second later, reel it back in to massage it to a smoothness that’s simultaneously seductive and playful.”