Sarah DeLeo
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Sarah DeLeo

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band Jazz Cover Band


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"I'm in Heaven Tonight CD Review by Owen McNally"

A young, old-fashioned romantic with a passion for post-modern retrofitting of vintage songs, the celestial-toned Sarah DeLeo sounds as if she's in heaven as she breathes new life into venerable evergreens and angelically kitschy oldies. Able to generate the intimacy of a seasoned cabaret performer, DeLeo can make even the kitschy sound catchy as she does by morphing the rock 'n' roll hit "Rockin' Robin" into a jazz tune with a Blue Note tinge. - The Hartford Courant

"Sarah DeLeo - The Nearness of You"

Sarah DeLeo, a young New York-based singer, conjures up images of Peggy Lee and the elegant supper club years of the 1950s and 1960s. I was particularly impressed with the tune selection and arrangements on her debut, The Nearness of You. She begins the album with a bossa nova version of “If I Had You” that works wonderfully and gives a fresh lease on life to a song that doesn't get much play any more. It was also nice to hear the sorely overlooked Peggy Lee/Dave Barbour tune “It's a Good Day.” DeLeo has the Peggy Lee phrasing down pat, and she has mastered her understated swinging style.

DeLeo shows that she doesn't have to shout to swing or to sing the blues. This can heard in her versions of “(The Night Time is) The Right Time” and an inspired shuffle version of “The Glory of Love”—a tune I normally despise, but somehow DeLeo makes it work. Although this album is a tribute to the great American Songbook and examines familiar musical territory, one new discovery was the humorous Chuck Meyer/Biff Jones tune “Too Young for the Blues” and its Dave Frishberg-like lyrics. This is followed, however, by a very soulful and bluesy version of “Angel Eyes” that she sings accompanied only by Mark Verdino's bass.

DeLeo's ballad singing is truly inspired. With a musicality that belies her youth, she can slow down a ballad like Shirley Horne and bring a poignancy to the simplest phrase, as evidenced by her versions of “The Nearness of You” and “It's Easy to Remember,” both of which feature tasteful obbligatos by guitarist Chris Bergson. Ending the album as she began, DeLeo presents a bossa nova version of “So in Love,” and like all of Cole Porter's tunes, it seems to have anticipated the bossa nova revolution by several decades.

This is a wonderful album that features a delightful voice, imaginative arrangements, and a group of musicians who perform with total musical cohesion. It exhibits something we encounter very rarely in these vulgar times: consummate taste. My only quibble is its 48 minute duration.

"CD Title - The Nearness of You"

Sarah DeLeo’s debut CD, The Nearness of You, is filled with classics from the Great American Songbook. DeLeo has a distinct delivery and conjures images of Peggy Lee and Lena Horne. Sit back and let the disc spin and if you close your eyes you can feel the smoke from the jazz club settle in around you. You’ll hear the tink of half-filled glasses clanking together at the bar and the gentle murmuring of your fellow listeners around you. DeLeo puts forth the air of the 1950s New York supper club – a little understated but with great talent waiting to be allowed to burst forth.

DeLeo is daring with her choice of rhythms for her tracks. The Judy Garland ballad “If I Had You” has become a bossa nova which works amazingly well with the melody and lyrics. Lew Herman’s blues classic “(The Night Time is) The Right Time” finds DeLeo taking her time with the song’s pace. This gives the song a completely different and sexy feel to it; much different than Joe Williams’ classic recording. “It’s a Good Day,” Peggy Lee’s classic, is given a proper treatment with DeLeo’s full-bodied voice. Starting out with a melancholy mood, the band picks up the tempo and turns the track into a cheery waltz. Brian Charette shows his skill on the blacks and whites with a solo over Mark Verdino’s walking bass before allowing DeLeo to return and conclude the song on an uplifting note.

Ned Washington and Hoagy Carmichael’s “The Nearness of You” give credit to the title track. DeLeo opens with her rendition of the song’s seldom-heard first verse accompanied only by Chris Bergson’s guitar. Together they segue with the rest of the rhythm section into the well-known melody. This is one of the best tracks on the CD and each performer is given a chance to shine. “Blackbirds,” a contemporary song by Erin McKeown, is another highlight. DeLeo sings the tunes lyrics over beats sampled from Erykah Badu’s album Baduizm. Bouyed by Chuck MacKinnon’s trumpet, David Cook’s Fender Rhodes and Bergson’s guitar give this track a mysterious air.

There is a lot of talent in this young vocalist. With a few more years under her belt I really believe that Sarah DeLeo will be able to strike out onto the national scene. From beginning to end The Nearness of You is a winner and Sarah DeLeo’s silky voice will leave you wishing for another 48 minutes of her music.

"Under the Radar"

Sneaking in quietly with good taste comes a young singer named Sarah DeLeo with her debut CD. She's a jazz-influenced singer with a warm sound, sounding quite sophisticated and pretty daring, too. She tackles a variety of tempi and does well. Most of this doesn't really sound like a first album because she's so comfortable. The title song is especially tasty. Her inclusion of the verse makes it even more romantic and tender, as does the featured but subtle guitar of Chris Bergson - very cool. It lasts for more than six minutes but doesn't feel overlong at all.

The Rodgers and Hart selection ("It's Easy to Remember") and the Cole Porter song "So in Love" (Kiss Me Kate) find her phrasing thoughtful and with originality. When Sarah takes things slow, she's pensive and it's worth the time she takes. There are some bluesy side trips, too, but things don't get morose. This singer exudes intelligence, and the scales tip towards optimism overall.

"Blackbirds" by singer-songwriter Erin McKeown is a new number to me, a funky story song making for a hip change of pace, with trumpeter Chuck Mackinnon added as another plus. "Angel Eyes" is just Sarah and bass player Mark Verdino: this spare dare pays off impressively. She's really in the company of some skilled musicians on this album, including drummer Diego Voglino whose work I especially appreciate on repeated listenings. The band also includes keyboard work by David Cook and, on four tracks, pianist Brian Charette (she co-produced the CD with him).

My favorite track is "It's a Good Day," a Peggy Lee trademark written by Miss Lee and her guitarist husband Dave Barbour. Sarah has her own intriguing look at it, taking the usually brisk song out of tempo and exploring it, gradually adding energy. This is a creative album all around but not an exercise in showing off or self-indulgence. Quite the contrary, this mostly laidback outing does not wear out its welcome. I've had it for a few weeks now and find myself returning to it over and over, especially late at night. -

"Music Review: Sarah DeLeo - I'm in Heaven Tonight"

"Miss America should just resign," suggests New York vocalist Sarah DeLeo on the Leonard Bernstein/Steven Sondheim tune "I Feel Pretty." Listening to her spotless vocal command and contagious energy, I can't help but agree with her sentiments.

DeLeo's second record, I'm In Heaven Tonight, takes some interesting roads and allows the jazz singer and her bandmates the opportunity to stretch out and get comfortable. To be sure, one of the most compelling aspects of this recording is the dutiful approach to the musical arrangements taken by DeLeo. Each song is infused with something different, as if her bravery knows no bounds.

I'm In Heaven Tonight is a more than suitable follow-up to DeLeo's 2005 debut record, The Nearness of You. Here, she presents another collection of songs that allow her to play storyteller and reach through genres to pull out the very spirit of the music she sings.

Take the potentially tacky "Rockin' Robin," for a start. This Bobby Day hit is rearranged by Jay Collins and takes a slight Lee Morgan-inspired roundabout route. DeLeo rocks the house, swaying and snapping through the arrangement with sassiness.

The bittersweet mood of the title track is taken to expressive heights by DeLeo's control and crystalline elocution. Her timing on the notes charmingly offsets them, offering a conversational quality.

Shifting fluently from ballad to hard-swinging number is natural for DeLeo and her band, as percussionist Mark Bordenet carves out a deep Latin groove on "No Moon at All" and rapidly pops into a crackling jazz roll on "On the Street Where You Live." Chris Bergson's guitar is always present but never overwhelming, accenting DeLeo's voice like a conscientious partner ought to.

Sarah takes a risk with The White Stripes' "In the Cold, Cold Night" but knocks it out of the park with her sultry, smart delivery. Gary Wang's bass digs in, giving the cut a solid groove that never overpowers.

All in all, Sarah DeLeo proves her versatility and style with I'm In Heaven Tonight. Her tone is immaculate, her control is outstanding, and her method is unique and fresh. She offers stories with her diverse takes on these songs and provides characters that listeners will return to time and again.

- Blogcritics Magazine

"Sarah DeLeo / I'm in Heaven Tonight"

Simply put, this is a jazz singer what am. DeLeo has got a feel for the time and place of the classic supper club sound and knows how to sell a song in a most convincing way. With the next generation of Big Apple cats that are the first call cats of the future along for the ride, this is a right on vocal set that's a pure, fast ball down the middle just asking to be hit out of the park. A lovely, winning date that gives you all you'd want from a vocal session and more. Hot stuff. - Midwest Record

"Featured Artist: Sarah DeLeo"

The old saying "Flaunt it if you've got it" has been passed on from generation to generation, and it certainly rings true for jazz vocalist Sarah DeLeo who has definitely got it and, she flaunts it on her sophomore release I'm In Heaven Tonight. Produced by DeLeo and Brian Charette, the album pays homage to the spellbinding lure that jazz standards have one people. DeLeo's interpretation of such standards as "Rockin' Robin" and "I Feel Pretty" have a contemporary bite that seeps into the bloodlines of these tunes ancestral roots making them tight descendants. DeLeo sounds like her album is on a mission to preserve jazz as she modulates her voice in smoothly poised ringlets liken to Peggy Lee and heated coils reminiscent of Nina Simone.

DeLeo's talents include demonstrating immense sensitivity as she acclimates to the mood of songs and moves harmoniously with the slow rises and declines traipsing through the melodies like in the ballad "You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me." She twitters energetically across the throng of vaunting movements in "Rockin' Robin," and turns to soft caresses through the torchlight atmospherics of "No Moon At All" featuring the smooth Latin grooves of Mark Bordenet in the percussive beats. "I Feel Pretty" has the cheery showtunes glee of Guys And Dolls and vocal theatrics which give the tune a life-sized character. Pianist David Cook injects the title track with fluid wavelets and switches to a sparsely majestic flare in "I'm In Heaven Tonight." The pensive strokes of DeLeo's vocals glide across the melodic planks of "Let It Rain" as if the song was created from her lips and made as a panacea for her soul. The pumping beats of "On The Street Where You Live" pulses at a vigorous heart rate, and the sassy purr in her vocals in "Stolen Moments" bode well with the tune's finger-snapping rhythm. DeLeo's exhalations and inhalations have a smooth palpitation fueling the heath beneath "In The Cold, Cold Night," and the statuesque curves of her vocals in "Sometimes I'm Happy" cloak the tune in satisfying warmth.

DeLeo shows a breadth of freedom in her interpretations and a steady control, which enables her to bend the melodies to her will. Graduating from Barnard where she was an American Studies major, DeLeo's foray into jazz began with ad-hoc performances beside seasoned professionals. These colleagues provided her guidance in her own solo work, which led to the making of her debut album The Nearness Of You. Sarah DeLeo's life seems to be made up of dreams, each one coming to life after being conceived and all made to fit her.


I'm in Heaven Tonight - Released 1/27/09

The Nearness of You - Debut CD, Released 10/1/05

Tracks from both recordings have received air play on over 100 internet and broadcast radio stations.



Sarah DeLeo is a contemporary jazz vocalist noted for ballads and music with a mellow "Peggy Lee vibe." Notable appearances include WNYC's The Greene Space, Cornelia Street Cafe, and the Iridium Jazz Club. She has been cited in "The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide" by Scott Yanow, "The New Face of Jazz" by Cicily Janus, and the upcoming ninth edition of the "Penguin Guide to Jazz". In 2005 Sarah released her debut CD, "The Nearness of You", which garnered critical acclaim and introduced Sarah's work to both national and international audiences. Her follow up to that release is 2009's "I'm In Heaven Tonight", another inspired collection of songs that combines the old and the new.

Sarah has been compared to many legendary singers including Peggy Lee and Sarah Vaughan and contemporary singers Sade and Corinne Bailey Rae. She lights up the crowd with her natural charm and grace. Audiences are enraptured by her unique voice (once referred to as her "calling card"), her exquisite phrasing, and her heartfelt interpretations of ballads, which have been described as "beyond her years". Simply put, her sumptuous, satiny sound and crystal clear diction turn every performance, whether live or on disc, into an intimate and moving affair.