Vocal Jazz CD of the Month: Sony Holland, Sanssouci
This enchanting CD, by LA-based singer Sony Holland, offers delightful moments that combine elegance, delicacy, sensitivity & musical joy, in reverence to music's subtler values. The lovely intertwining of lines, tempos and motifs abounds throughout the beautifully & inventively arranged 13 track-program, a perfect blend of standards (from the opener "My Foolish Heart" to the finale with the best vocal version of "My Romance" since Carly Simon's recording with Eddie Gomez & Steve Gadd 20 years ago) and originals by Sony's hitmaker (and multi-talented) husband Jerry Holland -- my personal favorite being "Little Tune," that sounds sooooo pretty!
Also noteworthy are Sony's renditions of Rufus Wainweight's title track "Sanssouci" and Carla Bruni's "Those Dancing Days Are Gone," composed (for her second album, "No Promises", from 2008) after a 1929 poem by William Butler Yeats. Not to mention Joseph Kosma's 1945 standard "Les Feuilles Mortes," sung firstly in French (with the original Jacques Prévert lyrics) and soon after with the English lyrics added by Johnny Mercer in 1947. The mixing of Sony Holland's soulful vocals with the sparse/ingenious instrumentation is pure pleasure.
Arnaldo Desouteiros/ JAZZ STATION BLOG
NOTES FROM SONY HOLLAND:
I’m pleased to present my new CD, SANSSOUCI. It is a very personal project for me with soft and dark overtones. Though it was put together on an artists budget I’m proud of the result and I hope you will find it a "good listen." The material is varied. There are classics like "Les Feuilles Mortes" (with the haunting cello) and a Bossa Nova version of "My Foolish Heart." There are five original songs including the jazz tune "You're Always With Somebody New," and the folk-pop ballad "When I Find You." The title track is a rarely (if ever) covered piece written by Rufus Wainwright. SANSSOUCI refers to a summer palace built by King Frederick of Prussia in 1745. Both the song and the palace call to mind a certain glorious despair, a sense of grandness and loss at the same time...I certainly have an understanding of those dual emotions.
Initially, Jerry (my husband/guitarist) and I tested everything out at home. We made a demo of all of the songs onto a hand held digital recorder with just guitar and voice. This was a way for us to fine-tune the arrangements. We made those recordings in our bathroom because it’s the quietest spot in our loft. I guess you could say that we took singing in the shower to a whole new level. Seriously, this process saved us a lot of time and money as we moved forward with the project.
Once in the studio we enlisted the musicians and engineers to help us achieve our vision more fully. Musical ideas are difficult to convey into words, but the people we worked with are talented, sensitive and caring and gave each song the right vibe. I want to express my thanks to all of them.
There are certainly things about SANSSOUCI that could have been improved upon had there been additional resources, but whatever it lacks in production value we tried to make up for with spirited artistry. This CD could not have been made at all, if it weren't for the help and encouragement of my friends and fans. I appreciate their support with all of my heart.
Vocals: Sony Holland
Guitars: Jerry Holland
Bass: David Hughes
Percussion: Kendall Kay
Keyboards: Robbie Kondor
Cello: Wolf Sebastian
"One of the most talented jazz singers in town, Sony Holland has the potential to sing a wide variety of music and improvise creatively in every idiom. On Sanssoucci, she sings several standards, a few obscurities, and five excellent songs by her husband guitarist Jerry Holland. Accompanied by Holland, keyboardist Robbie Kondor, bassist David Hughes, drummer Kendall Kay and occasionally the cello of Wolf Sebastian, the singer pays respect to the melodies and lyrics and keeps her renditions concise but definitive. Slower tempos are emphasized with her versions of “What A Difference A Day Made” and “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (the most rewarding recording of the latter song in quite a few years) are among the highlights. This continually evolving artist is well worth seeing live too." Scott Yanow, LA Jazz Scene
"SONY HOLLAND now calls Los Angeles home. But that doesn't mean Bay Area fans should stop feeling possessive about this incredibly talented former San Francisco singer. Holland's new CD, "Sanssouci," finds the song stylist putting her distinctive stamp on a mix of standards, originals and contemporary songs. The title track, penned by Rufus Wainwright, refers to a summer palace built by King Frederick of Prussia in 1745. That topic sounds a bit dry in print, yet it's anything but in Holland's hands. Jim Harrington, San Jose Mercury News
“Sanssouci”, Rufus Wainwright’s lush romantic rumination is the perfect illustration of where vocalist Sony Holland stands musically. The song is both intelligently composed, even classically oriented, yet refreshingly modern and contemporary in its lyrical content. It also moves in the up-tempo Latin beat that seems to be driving much of this CD’s sound. Holland has been moving away from standard interpretations of Great American Songbook and here interprets “My Foolish Heart” and “What A Difference A Day Made” in this hipper, acoustic based style. “You Don’t Know What Love Is” is a perfect example of Holland’s re-interpretive work. Influenced by husband Jerry Holland’s original tunes (“Curiosity”, “You’re Always With Somebody New” and “When I Find You”), this CD has a moving beat, tempered with Sony’s languid, deliberate reading of the lyric. It’s not swing or jazz in the strict sense, but moves close to the Jobim/Gilberto bossa nova sound popular in the sixties. Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is most close to its original recording and a Holland live staple. “Autumn Leaves”, originally the 1945 French song "Les Feuilles Mortes", sung in French and English, is lovely. Sony’s voice is lovely as always and self-assured and the musicianship heartfelt. Steve Murray in Cabaret Scenes