Diana Perez’s bourbon-hued timbres have a way of wooing listeners into her world of classic jazz, showing a natural ease reminiscent of Leslie Lewis and an innate loveliness that allows her vocals to walk on air with a wonderment reflective of Stevie Holland. Perez’s third solo CD, It’s Happenin’, is a collection of café-tempered jazz barnacled by smooth waltzing motions, and inlays of elegantly wafting torchlight motifs. The album features tunes from the Great American Songbook such as Jobim’s "Corcovado" and Ahbez’s "Nature Boy." Even with Perez’s alto register, her voice flies as high as a kite over brushes of swirling flutes and twittering piano keys. It’s an album that entertains and shows a love of straight-ahead jazz in every nook and cranny of the tracks.
The beauty emanating from the songs shows an operating system programmed by love with levers that make certain the input remains unencumbered. The tracks are immaculately polished to a Coltrane-shine, and the clarity of Perez’s vocal melodies are Lena Horne-sharp. The upbeat tempo of "Perdido" entices listeners to join in the festivities of the dancefloor grooves, and the cruising tranquility of "Milestones," penned by Miles Davis and Giacomo Gates, gives listeners the opportunity to lay back and enjoy the view. Perez’s vocals are perfectly trained for straight-ahead jazz. The shape of her inflections, the pitch of her register and the length of her resonance are form-fitted to classic jazz tunage in the way that super model Naomi Campbell’s body is perfect for runway modeling. Perez’s attachment to classic jazz is evident in the way her vocals thrive in this genre, and in the way she expresses such longing in her voice to fulfill deeply embedded desires like in "Blame It On My Youth" and "In The Wee Small Hours." Her handling of these pieces is reflective of the jazz singers from the 1950’s like Anita O’Day and Annie Ross showing the genuine care that they did, and consideration for every tendril and molecule in the melodies.
Though It’s Happenin’ is Perez’s third album, it is her debut on the Zoho label and shows her versatility to float over the creamy rolling brushstrokes of "Corcovado" and ride along the frothy riffs of "Farmers Market." Ms. Perez knows how to make some of the best classic jazz-baked tunes you may ever hear. Maybe it’s in the way that she longs for something out of her reach and spends the entire length of the album daydreaming about it, or it’s in the way that she handles each track with such precious care. Whatever it is, Perez’s vocals are made for classic jazz tunage and enticing listeners to believe in their daydreams.