Performing Artists (Click on Artist for Reviews and Previews)
$20.00 - $115.00
Anita Wardell's singing is exciting and breathtaking. She is noted for her mesmerizing and captivating vocal improvisations and vocalese lyrics to instrumental solos. Anita is a musician who uses the voice as her instrument, displaying precision and agility, mixed with heartfelt emotion.
Kinda Blue, her second and most recent album for Proper Records UK, shows Anita's versatility and complete command of her instrument. On this recording, she has teamed up with some of the UK's finest musicians: Robin Aspland (piano), Jeremy Brown (bass) and Steve Brown (drums), with special guest performances by Tristan Maillot on drums, Adam Glasser on harmonica and Phil Robson on guitar. This carefully selected set of songs gives you an insight to the infectious and spellbinding performances heard live.
Anita received the prestigious BBC Jazz Award for Best of Jazz category in 2006. This, coupled with the release of Kinda Blue, are now propelling Anita into the major artist arena.
Noted, her first release for the new label (released in July 2006), is a collection of well known material from the Blue Note era to which Anita has penned many of her own lyrics. It received much radio play and 4 and 5 star reviews from UK and European jazz publications".
Singer Norma Winstone praised her “unexpected vulnerability, which makes her reading of the ballads both beautiful and touching. Her honesty shines in this well-chosen collection of songs.”
Bebop pioneer, Mark Murphy, proclaimed Anita, "a gift from Australia", adding “What hits me, is how expressive her ballad singing is. Then she has the courage to scat a ballad or two, not unlike a young lady disciple of the Ben Webster school.”
Born in Harlem, New York, to a homemaker mother of Cuban Irish decent, and a Puerto Rican father, a machinist who played congas and guitar in the Navy Big Band, she was drawn to music and art from an early age. By age four, Perez would hear a song once and recite the lyrics and hum the melody. However, as a creative person it was photography that eventually became her self-expression that eventually led her back to music. So transformed is she that her moniker has become, simply, PEREZ.
At the age of 17 her journey took her to Los Angeles where she worked in the field of Art and Design, notably at Cannon films. Working closely with the art director proved to be a turning point in her life. Perez recalled "my fascination and long romance with jazz was born when I was exposed to his [the director] taste in music; John Coltrane and Charlie Parker…in search for more I started my quest to find other jazz artists." Listening to Bill Evans, Charles Mingus, "the cool" of Anita O'Day, Shirley Horn, Chet Baker, Annie Ross and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross provided the passion that she needed to take a leap of faith into the world of jazz singing. To date, songs "Come on home" and "Home Cookin'" of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross are two of her favorites that sound as fresh today as when she first heard them.
Upon her discovery of other great singers such as Abbey Lincoln and Nina Simone, Perez made that fateful decision to leave the visual arts world to focus on becoming a jazz vocalist. Always daring and adventure seeking she moved to Europe in search of herself and her voice. "I made a conscious decision to focus on a verbal form of communication" says Perez. Settling in Amsterdam, without formal musical education she took classes at various schools and conservatories. But her many lessons from the jazz artists who she met along the way proved to be invaluable. Curtis Clark, Anita Wardell, Jan Ponsford and Randy Greer were frequent visitors in her home and Anita continues to be one of her greatest friends and teacher.
Amsterdam has one of Europe's most prominent jazz scenes. Many of the great names have lived there from time to time, including Chet Baker, who died there. Perez became a regular fixture at Bimhuis, the center spot for the Dutch jazz scene that was created in the 70's by renowned Dutch jazz musicians. Great names in Jazz have played the Bimhuis over the years: Charles Mingus, Chet Baker, Archie Shepp and more contemporary musicians; Bob Berg, Steve Solo and Kenny Wheeler to mention a few. When she applied to be a member of the Bimhuis she was asked how long she had been involved in improvisatiemuziek, her reply, "6 months after I was born. I was placed into a foster home, I've been improvising since then." Perez quickly established her reputation at Bimhuis and ran a weekly session for sometime. This allowed her the good fortune to appear at festivals on stages across Europe.