Sony Holland makes rare NYC appearance
Well known West Coast Jazz vocalist Sony Holland made a rare New York City appearance Sunday, December 30 for the Sunday brunch shows at the Blue Note and the word was out because the first show was a sell out and for the second show there was a block long of people standing in the cold to get in.
With her stunning pale make-up and long blonde platinum hair, she looked like a cross between Nico and Mary Travers but when she opened her mouth to sing she had the voice of a wicked angel and swung wildly. She paid homage to many of her idols before she sang one of their songs, so there were songs originally sung by Connee Boswell, Helen Ward, Roberta Flack and many singers of the big band area.
Holland is married to jazz guitarist Jerry Holland who leads jazz orchestras in his West Coast engagements. He is also a helluva songwriter and Holland sang at least two of his originals. The rest of the Sony Holland Quintet, as they were billed, were superb New York musicians: Ted Rosenthal, piano, David Finck on bass, and Warren Odze on drums. Her Helen Ward tribute was something Ward sang with Benny Goodman, “You Turned the Tables on Me” and Sony Holland’s vocal power soared. She paid tribute to Clint Eastwood for putting Roberta Flack’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in Play Misty for Me, which Holland sang so sweetly you could hear a pin drop in that large club. There was a melody composed to W. B. Yeats’ “These Dancing Days Are Gone.”
Holland paid tribute to Rosenthal’s new CD, Out Of This World, and in his honor wailed out the Mercer-Arlen “Out of this World” then went soulful on “You Don’t Know What Love Is.” Best of all were two of Jerry Holland’s original songs: “This City Is Mine,” a song about New York City and how the singer, on a flight in from the Coast, can’t wait to get back to New York City and everything that makes it more exciting than any other city; and a crazy song entitled “I Know There’s A Man In Manhattan” about looking for a hot straight man at all the proper spots in the Big Apple.
By the way, the brunch menu at the Blue Note is excellent and the prix-fixe includes many selections and a drink. I lifted my Champagne Mimosa in a toast to Sony Holland and her men! It may have been freezing outside but there was warmth and love at the Blue Note with the Sony Holland Quintet. I hope she returns to the East again soon but, in the meantime, I’m going to be in San Francisco twice this year and I hope to coincide with one of Holland’s Northern California gigs.