Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Vocalist, pianist, percussionist, composer and arranger Susan Pereira, a New York native, has been one of the most versatile musicians on that city’s Brazilian music scene since 1983. While deeply rooted in traditional Brazilian styles, her broad background in jazz and world music has enabled her to develop a distinct musical personality. Fluent in Portuguese, she is a singer who blends a silky, rich tone with superior vocal technique and is a particularly skilled lyric interpreter and scat singer. Susan’s percussive piano style is enhanced by her mastery of complex Brazilian rhythms and her original Brazilian jazz compositions are a popular part of her performances.
Formed in 1991 by Susan and Brazilian drummer Vanderlei Pereira, Sabor Brasil has established itself as one of the most popular Brazilian ensembles in the New York area by fusing traditional Brazilian styles with contemporary jazz. Susan Pereira and Sabor Brasil regularly thrill audiences with their dynamic performances that draw upon influences ranging from hot samba to cool bossa nova, from the elegance of chorinho to the exotic rhythms of Bahia and modern Brazilian jazz. Their début recording Tudo Azul (Riony Records) was completed in September 2006 and features the core band joined by special guests Claudio Roditi on trumpet, Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica, Romero Lubambo on guitar and Luis Bonilla on trombone. Produced by Susan, the CD includes five of her songs and one each by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento, among other selections.
Since its inception Sabor Brasil has appeared at many of New York’s leading clubs including B.B. King’s, Iridium, Birdland, Zinc Bar, 55 Bar, Noche and Citron 47. The band has also appeared at a variety of festivals and special events including the Savannah Jazz Festival; the Hartford Jazz Festival; New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s “Sounds of the City” Festival; the Wall St. Festival in Kingston, NY; the “Jazz and Roses” Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden; the Mayfair Festival; the Wooster Jazz Society concert series; Riverside Park’s “Sunset Concerts” series; the Hudson River Museum’s festival “Summer Sounds Goes Global;’ and the Central Park Music Festival.
Apart from Sabor Brasil, Susan has performed as a vocalist and percussionist at the Kennedy Center, Sweet Rhythm and the Syracuse Jazzfest with Laura Dreyer and Mysterious Encounter and with with Ben Sher and Tudo Bem at the Blue Note in New York. She has sung with Brazilian guitarist Nelson Faria and appeared often with Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador in New York at The River Café and The Water Club. An original member of the percussion ensembles Grupo Batucada and Samba Novo � playing surdo in both and singing lead vocals in Samba Novo � she performed with Grupo Batucada and Jaco Pastorius at the Blue Note and Seventh Avenue South. Other engagements include opening for Ruben Blades and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at the Lone Star Café and the Bright Moments Jazz Festival; and at Lincoln Center, SOB’s, Nell’s, Roseland among other New York venues. Susan also performed at the Statue of Liberty Centennial, the Caribbean Cultural Center’s Music Festival and the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade.
As a percussionist, Susan was invited to play at New York’s Village Gate with Airto Moreira and Flora Purim in an all-star band that included Tito Puente and Giovanni Hidalgo, and in Rio de Janeiro with the São Clemente Samba School in the final Carnaval competitions of 1987 and 1988. She is an official endorser of LP Percussion.
As a studio musician Susan has composed, arranged and recorded for OMNI Music and written arrangements and played percussion on the vocal group String of Pearls’ CDs S.O.P. New York � Brazil, Vols. 1 & 2 (Alfa Records). She sang, played and also co-arranged the percussion on saxophonist/composer Laura Dreyer’s CD Mysterious Encounter (Lavasphere Records). Other recordings include Sarah Pillow’s Remixes (Buckyball Music); Ruben Rada’s Montevideo, (Big World Music); Miguel Kertsman’s Gravity Tunnel, (Proxima Records); Tom Briggs’s Moonlight (SaturnDisc); Sue Maskaleris’s Unbreakable Heart (Jazilian Records) and Cryptic Soup’s Salty Pretzel Dog Logic (Dental Records).
Susan studied voice with Jeannie Goffi, Ann Ruckert and Charles Walker; piano with Kenny Barron, Jill McManus, Michael Abbott, Joseph Kahn and Milton Kraus; arranging and composition with Don Sebesky and Bill Barron; and percussion with Cyro Baptista, Manoel Monteiro, Abraham Adzenyah, Robert Levin, David Locke and Michelle Kisliuk. She is a cum laude graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, where she earned a B.A. in Music and English with High Honors in Music.
With the incredible output of jazz CDs by new artists in the first decade of the 21st century, it is a challenge for someone to stand out with a debut recording. But vocalist/pianist/composer Susan Pereira, gifted with a beautiful voice, terrific keyboard chops and a knack for arranging, is the exception to the rule . . . Highly recommended! Ken Dryden, All Music Guide
“Tudo Azul, by Susan Pereira and Sabor Brasil, is a stellar collection of soul- felt performances, beautiful compositions, great arrangements and inspired playing that is sure to move you deeply.” Alfredo Cruz, radio producer and former on-air host at NPR, KLON/KJJZ-FM, and WBGO-FM
. . . an energized romp, very gloriously arranged, and Susan Pereira sings with a lot of brio . . . Howard Mandel, jazz journalist
. . . a terrific Brasilian CD! Brad Stone, Music Director, KSJS-FM (San Jose, CA)
A superb vocalist, an accomplished pianist and percussionist and the force behind the ensemble Sabor Brasil . . .Tudo Azul is a wonderful debut album. The repertoire selection is well balanced, and the musicians' performances under Susan Pereira's creativity and guidance are stellar. Egidio Leitão, musicabrasileira.org
. . . a very polished piece of work; with so many jazz singers dabbling in Brazil's traditions it's good to see a few who've committed to digging deeper. Matthew Finch, Music Director, KUNM-FM (Albuquerque, NM)