Friday, January 4, 2013

Blue Note Review!

Sony Holland makes rare NYC appearance

January 3, 2013.

Reviewed by Joe Regan Jr.

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.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

@ the Blue Note, plus lyrics!

It was a fun date at the Blue Note NYC on December 30th. Cold as it was outside the band and I loved making music for the sold out(!) house that filed in for the first set. We had a warm, vibrant crowd at the second show as well. Many jazz greats have performed at the Blue Note and it's an honor to sing on that stage. In the band picture below you can see that Chris Botti's drummer left his gear behind us. Located in the heart of Greenwich Village it is the prototypical jazz room... dimly lit with an intimate, cozy ambiance. They've made nice upgrades to their sound and lighting since my last gig there. A special thanks to Ryan Ramirez for doing an excellent job running the board and the lights!

There's no place like New York City for the holidays, and the Blue Note was basking in a seasonal glow. I had a terrific band with me... Ted Rosenthal on piano, Dave Finck on bass, Jerry Holland on guitar and Warren Odze on drums.

After each set I had the chance to meet and greet an audience of new and old friends upstairs near the green room. If you were at the show and took some photos I would love to see them. Please send them to me at - Thanks to my Auntie Susan Evans for these two shots!
One of the songs that was a crowd favorite was Jerry's passionate ode to NY, THIS CITY IS MINE. I've had plenty of requests for the lyric, so here it is:

words & music Jerry Holland
c. Heebalibra Music, BMI

I took that long flight home from L.A.
Out of a daydream back into the fray
My city's rhythm is fast paced and real
Caffeine, ambition, concrete and steel

Step into the mix on 6th Avenue
Adrenaline flows as I take in the view
A thousand memories come on like a song
I know in my heart this is where I belong

This city is mine
I feel it's power flow through my veins
Running through me like a subway train
Upper West Side down to Washington Square
And I don't care
This city is mine, mine, all mine...

Stockbroker, streetwalker, lawyer and bum
Brownstone, bodega, skyscraper, slum
Bright neon billboards and red flashing lights
Hot hectic days and the cool jazzy nights

Sushi, Souvlaki, rice and red beans
Big yellow taxi's, long black limousines
Racin' through Harlem into Chinatown
Don't say a word puttin' her down

This city is mine
Music so loud y' get high on the beat
Feels so alive just to walk down the street
Like you're up on the Empire State
Isn't it great
This city is mine, mine, all mine...

No, I'll never forget her
No matter where I may go
Save a space for me on the broken sidewalks of Broadway
And wait for me on the streets where we used to run

This city is mine
I feel it's power flow through my veins
Running through me like a subway train
Upper West Side down to Washington Square
And I don't care
This city is mine, mine, all mine...

This city is mine
Music so loud y' get high on the beat
Feels so alive just to walk down the street
Like you're up on the Empire State
Isn't it great
This city is mine, mine, all mine...

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Great Night @ Yoshi's

Thanks to everyone who joined us at Yoshi's... what an electrifying night! It is a thrill to walk onto a nicely lit stage in a classic black gown (barefoot!), knowing the band is great and the house is full. We played an 18 song set that included everything from old standards, soft bossas, rock covers and originals. Working such a wide variety of material into a cohesive show is a challenge, but I'll remember this night as a clear signal that all of our hard work is coming together.

Sony Holland, vocals: Jonathan Alford, keys: David Hughes, bass: Alan Hall, drums: Jerry Holland, guitar.
Back in the hey-day of jazz, Fillmore Street was packed with clubs and nightlife. Live music was everywhere. Singers and musicians were gigging every night of the week... I would have loved to have been a part of that scene.

Jonathan Alford and Sony Holland
The concert was a few days before Thanksgiving and I had so much to be thankful for. I think everyone in the audience felt that way... we could all feel the love!

Thank you ALL for making it such a memorable evening!



Special thanks to Terry Dudley for taking these fine photos.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The L.A. of My Dreams

This post originally appeared on the blog site My L.A. Lifestyle...

I am a singer with a passion for those old relics, lyrics and melody. I love the repertoire known as the Great American Songbook even though it's been out of style since before Jacqueline Kennedy wore a Pill Box hat.
My new i Tunes single is an original song called THE L.A. OF MY DREAMS.
Angelenos are the biggest dreamers around so it begs the question, WHAT IS THE L.A. OF YOUR DREAMS? A Whole Foods downtown? Our own football team?
How's this for dreaming? There is a wild scheme to build a park on top of the 101. 

My friend Hans Peter Trauschke has a dream of mounting seven 120' tall Polyamide angels on top of buildings downtown.
Jerry and I dream on a smaller scale. We live in a concrete box downtown that the real estate agent calls an 'artists loft'. So some Sunday's we like to dream about a clean sidewalk and fresh air.
The sky is radiantly blue
My shabby street has all the charms
Of Larchmont Avenue...
There was a scene in THE ARTIST when Jean Dujardin was driving through town and there was no one else on the road! Wow, can you imagine that!
Imagine this...
The 10's a gentle joy ride to the beach
Where a Long Island Iced tea is in my reach...

Like many Angelenos I came here to boost my musical career.
They say I'm going far
There's a soiree in the hills
Where I am greeted like a star
Then summer heat gives way
To endless Spring
And Clooney brings his pals
To hear me sing...

George, Brad, Matt... are you reading this? I'll be watching out for you at my next gig!

Music and Lyrics: - The L.A. of My Dreams - Jerry Holland  © Heebalibra Music 2012
iTunes Link: The L.A.Of  My Dreams

Image Credits: PHOTO 1: Google User Content;  PHOTO 2: Greenopolis;  PHOTO 3: CDN Shopify;  PHOTO 4:  Virtual Tourist;  PHOTO 5: USA Today;  PHOTO 6: The 20 Something Society

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The L.A. Of My Dreams

I have a new single up on iTunes called THE L.A. OF MY DREAMS, (lyrics below). Written by Jerry Holland, it is a beautiful Bossa Nova love song set in a more genteel City Of Angels... Jerry says, "We live close to Skid Row and we see the gritty side of life here on a daily basis. After watching THE ARTIST the vision of a more wide open L.A. stuck with me. I wanted to jump into the picture of an L.A. like that."

We recorded this song at the Village Studio with Jerry, Leland Sklar, Andy Langham and Gregg Bissonette. Thanks for listening and I hope you enjoy it.


Preview it here:

words & music by Jerry Holland c. Heebalibra Music, BMI

In reality
This is a very tough town
My hopeful heart
Had been so cynically shot down
Until you flashed a smile
My lifeline had been cut
The Miracle Mile was just a rut, but...

In the L.A. of my dreams
The sky is radiantly blue
My shabby street has all the charms
Of Larchmont Avenue
The 10's a gentle joy ride to the beach
Where a Long Island Iced Tea is in my reach
In the L.A. of my dreams
They say I'm going far
There's a soiree in the hills
Where I am greeted like a star
Then summer heat gives way to endless spring
And Clooney brings his pals to hear me sing...

In this land of make believe
I've found something real with you
And in the L.A. of my dreams
You're my dream come true...

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

@ Village Studios

We had an excellent afternoon of making music at Village Studios. The Village drips with musical history. Steely Dan, Fleetwood Mac, Barbara Streisand, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan are among the hundreds of famous artists who have recorded there. Our engineer, Leslie Ann Jones, goes way back with studio owner Jeff Greenberg and she booked our tracking session for September 20th. Studio A is lit only by crossing strings of colored lights and the walls are draped with red and black curtains... there is musical gear and wiring all over the place, so it has the feel of a dark and secret club-house for musicians.

Leslie and assistant engineer Vanessa Parr were already setting up the room when Jerry and I got there. Shortly Leland Sklar arrived with a beautiful bass that he has played on hundreds of albums by artists such as James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Roberta Flack, Phil Collins, Linda Ronstadt, Hall & Oates, Art Garfunkel, Kris Kristofferson, etc. Lee is an incredibly nice guy and such a pleasure to work with.

With Leland Sklar @ the Village.
Our pianist, Andy Langham, arrived next. It was great to have Andy on the session since we also work with him 'live'. Aside from being a phenomenal player he has one of my favorite traits in a musician... he listens!

There is never a dull moment once Gregg Bissonette walks in a room. He greeted all of us like long lost pals! Gregg is a top studio drummer who has played on records or toured with Santana, Steve Vai, The Doobie Brothers, Lou Rawls, Bette Midler, Joe Satriani, Van Halen, Duran Duran and more... he is also the voice of Winnie The Pooh. That might explain some of his bright energy and enthusiasm.

This day was devoted to laying down the musical tracks for our Kickstarter project, so I sang a 'scratch' vocal as a guide for the musicians. I would record my final vocal on another day. It was so much fun to work with musicians of this caliber and I'd sure love to do it again. I can't wait to have the finished product!

Jerry took this shot outside of the Village. Lee, me, Andy & Gregg.

Jerry getting set up for the session.

Lee giving Leslie a big hug!

Leslie and I in the Studio A control room at the Village.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chestnut Street, San Francisco:

This video (with lyrics) is from a house concert in Oakland... the song was inspired by Chestnut Street in San Francisco.

When Jerry & I first moved to San Francisco we signed a lease for an apartment on Van Ness & O'Farrell, on the edge of the Tenderloin. It was dirty, run down and noisy but we needed to find something cheap and it fit the bill. It wasn't until after we settled into our flat that we took our first long exploratory stroll to other parts of the city.

We headed north on Van Ness and took a left turn onto Chestnut Street (in the Marina) and suddenly the streets were clean, the buildings were charming, the shops inviting and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. That first day of exploring the Marina inspired Jerry to write this award winning song. Enjoy!