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East of the Sun by Sonny & Perley with the John Hinton Trio

Years ago, while discussing music at a cocktail party, a friend of mine who is a master chef asserted that good dinner music can make or break a party faster than the food, guests, or the cocktail quality. To prove her point, she began to play Diana Krall’s "Love Scenes" album, after an entire evening of Ella, Billie, and Nina wafting through the house.

The protests were loud and immediate: "Turn that OFF!!" It almost killed the mood of the party and, in the case of my date, killed the evening for me.

The husband-and-wife team of pianist Sonny Daye and vocalist Perley Rousseau are regulars on the Northeast supper club circuit, having "spent the last several years developing and perfecting their unique blend of Jazz, Brazilian and International Cabaret which has become their musical signature" (this was quoted directly from their website.) Which means that they sound like practically every other piano jazz act in any steakhouse across the country.

This doesn’t mean that Sonny & Perley are very BAD, mind you; they just don’t seem to possess the intangibles, that certain "IT" that would make me look up from my medium well Porterhouse . Their album "East of the Sun" is a technically solid album, thoroughly pedestrian in every way. Rousseau has a rich robust vocal style reminiscent of Carmen McRae, her scatting is heavily influenced by Ella, and she can sing adeptly in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. Daye has a workman-like quality on the piano. That is to say that he doesn’t hit a wrong note, but he doesn’t go out on a limb to challenge the listener, even as the band has creative arrangement to songs like Irving Berlin’s "Cheek to Cheek" and Jobim’s "a Felicidade". By the time the album was over, I determined that this would indeed be acceptable dinner music.... if I was throwing a dinner party on a shoestring budget.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Sonny & Perley with the John Hinton Trio
  • CD Title: East of the Sun
  • Genre: Brazilian Jazz / Brazilian Pop Jazz
  • Year Released: 1999
  • Record Label: Redentor Records
  • Musicians: Sonny Daye (piano), Perley Rousseau (vocals, percussion), John Hilton (guitar), Mike DeMarco (drums), Tommy Ford (bass)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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