Bay Area jazz singer Sony Holland has a style that goes down easy. Her Plush Room engagement over the weekend featured a pleasantly appealing lineup of standards, pop songs and originals.
On Friday night, her band — the excellent Benny Watson on piano, Seward McCain on bass, David Rokeach on drums and Charles McNeal on saxophone, perfectly complemented her vocal performance, her last at the wonderfully intimate venue in the York Hotel, which is closing at the end of the year. (The room’s bookers, Rrazz Entertainment, are opening a new stage in the Nikko Hotel.)
Wearing a bright red dress and sparkly rhinestones, Holland’s persona is as inviting as her sound. She interprets with a light touch, offering nothing too challenging or over-the-top with both the ballads and uptempo tunes.
She opened with Kurt Weill’s “Speak Low” and ended the encore with “A Man in Manhattan” an original by her husband, Jerry Holland, with a tone and theme that blended marvelously with the other classics on the set list.
In between were “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” and every jazz singer’s favorite, “Meditation.” Among the standout numbers: “Skylark,” “Here’s That Rainy Day” and “Shall We Dance.”
She paid tribute to two of her favorite singers, Johnny Mathis and Tony Bennett, with “The Shadow of Your Smile,” a tune both recorded. Her evocative rendition of the gorgeous melody puts her in fine company. Fans in the Bay Area should look forward to her new recording and a Dec. 10 show at the new Yoshi’s in San Francisco.