Steve Murray

Performing Arts Reviews

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Sony Holland Quintet

Sony Holland Quintet
Joe Henderson Lab, SFJAZZ, San Francisco, CA, October 15, 2017

San Francisco’s sensual songbird Sony Holland and her Quintet performed a sparkling show for her SFJAZZ debut and her first Bay Area concert in 3 years. Well known for mixing musical genres with ease, Sony worked her way through timeless standards, covers arranged to suit her luscious vocal delivery and original material provided by husband/guitarist Jerry Holland.

Kurt Weil and Ogden Nash’s jazz standard “Speak Low” illustrates Sony’s affinity for the bossa groove popularized in the 1950’s and 60’s. It lends itself to Sony’s luxurious, measured phrasing. Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want to Do” borrows its rhythms from the bossa style and of course, “Besame Mucho”, a true bolero, reeks of sensuality in Sony’s hands. The band included a lovely tribute to Leonard Cohen with his plaintive “Suzanne”, and from the new CD is a feminine perspective on Bruce Springsteen’s haunting “Street of Philadelphia”. Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” has the bouncy inflection that suits Sony’s style like a glove.

Backed by Dan Feiszli on bass, David Rokeach on drums, and John Burr on keys, Sony and Jerry presented a few songs original songs from Soft Power. Jerry’s songwriting has always been stellar, and during this show he displayed his considerable skills on the guitar and well as with the pen. “All Rolled Into One” and “Best Defense” have the pop sensibilities that merge perfectly with Sony’s voice. On occasion, Jerry will veer toward edgier pop/rock as he displays on “Like It Never Happened” and the unrecorded, could-be-a-hit, “Hasn’t Been the Same Around Here”.

Sony was in perfect voice, the band supplementing the Holland’s music seamlessly. Six of the tunes on Soft Power were written by Jerry, one of the finest and under-rated songwriters around. Sony remind me of Julie London; two song stylists who transport you to a mellow space that’s both comforting and evocative.