Born: September 20 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
I was born in Harlem, New York. 136 Street and Amsterdam Avenue. I was baptized at Church of the Annunciation, 88Convent Avenue, New York, NY My mother was of Cuban Irish decent, a housewife; my Puerto Rican father was a machinist, 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, I would hear a song once and be able to recite the lyrics and melody. I attended High School of Art and Design at the age of 12 and majored in photography. Though photography was my first impulse towards self expression, I later focused my energy on vocals as a form of communication.
At the age of 17 I moved to Los Angeles where I worked within the Art and Design world and began my fascination and long romance with jazz.
I worked for Cannon films and was being exposed to the Art Director's taste in music. Lucky for me it was Coltrane and Parker. I began to seek out other jazz artists. I fell in love with the likes of Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, the cool of Anita O’day Shirley Horn, Chet Baker, Annie Ross and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross combo was a real treat when I stumbled across it. ''Come on home'' and ''Home cookin', till these days I adore those tunes. Then hearing the amazing Abbey Lincoln, Nina Simone was the final step in the decision to leave the visual world behind and focus on jazz vocal. It was when I moved to Europe that I made a conscious decision to focus on a verbal form of communication. I did not have a formal musical education, I did take classes at various schools and conservatories, but I also had many lessons from the jazz artists that stayed at my house like Curtis Clark, Anita Wardell, Jan Ponsford and Randy Greer. I became a regular figure at Amsterdam's Bimhuis.When applying to be a member of the Bimhuis I was asked .How long have you been involved in improvisatiemuziek.. My response was ‘’6 months after I was born I was placed into a foster home, I have been improvising since then.’’ Establishing my reputation, I ran a weekly session there for a spell and I was lucky to appear at festivals on stages across Europe. After a ten year stay in Europe I returned to New York, my home and I have produced two sessions entitled Seventh Avenue South and Sunday Sketches both out on Timeless Records a Dutch label. Each recording has some hip standards as well as original tunes on them. I am currently in the process of putting together the material for my third session ‘’ITS HAPPENIN’’ I feel very fortunate to have Bertha Hope as my mentor. I am very much focused on the art of jazz, and focused on the art of communication and portraying musical moments, that will move and touch listeners who have a craving for this great movement called JAZZ.
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 first-rate 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.
Badda boom-Badda Bing!! What a sensational group.....What a stalwart singer. Jazz singer 'Perez' & group take on the American songbook & nail it they do! This band & singer bring color, texture & themes of originality to our senses, & is certainly artistically fertile as well. Adaptability, great solos, & 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, & exploratory musical commentary.
George W. Carroll The Musicians' Ombudsman
All About Jazz
Its Happenin (ZOHO)
By Marcia Hillman
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 phrasing.
Her material includes (among other standards) ‘ 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 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. This cd is a tasteful package both vocally and instrumentally and insures future storytelling by the vocalist.
PEREZ/It’s Happening: 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. 200803 (Zoho) Volume 31/Number 144 March 23, 2008 MIDWEST RECORD CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
New York, NY
Clinic/Workshop Information Workshop for Advanced 1) how to produce your cd I have produced 3 sessions that labels have picked up. We go over : formulating a Budget, song choice, musicians, record labels, distribution options, website, press and radio PR, graphics . Workshop for beginners 1) If you can hear it you can sing it I go through several tunes , with my students teaching diction. ( clinic for Europe and JAPAN) list of listening homework. 2) Health is vital , eating , breathing . techniques to keep you focus calm during your first few gigs. 3) Choosing a set to do live going over the perfect set , different tempos, building up the set Key changes between the songs 4) jazz the life, the business