Vocalist, pianist, percussionist, composer and arranger Susan Pereira, a New York native, has been one of the most versatile musicians on that city’s Brazilian music scene since 1983. While deeply rooted in traditional Brazilian styles, her broad background in jazz and world music has enabled her to develop a distinct musical personality. Fluent in Portuguese and French, she is a singer who blends a silky, rich tone with superior vocal technique and is a particularly skilled lyric interpreter and scat singer. Susan’s percussive piano style is enhanced by her mastery of complex Brazilian rhythms and her original Brazilian jazz compositions are a popular part of her performances.
Formed in 1991 by Susan and Brazilian drummer Vanderlei Pereira, Sabor Brasil has established itself as one of the most popular Brazilian ensembles in the New York area by fusing traditional Brazilian styles with contemporary jazz. Susan Pereira and Sabor Brasil regularly thrill audiences with their dynamic performances that draw upon influences ranging from hot samba to cool bossa nova, from the elegance of chorinho to the exotic rhythms of Bahia and modern Brazilian jazz. Their début recording Tudo Azul (Riony Records) was released in 2007 and features the core band joined by special guests Claudio Roditi on trumpet, Hendrik Meurkens on harmonica, Romero Lubambo on guitar and Luis Bonilla on trombone. Produced by Susan, the CD includes five of her songs and one each by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Milton Nascimento, among other selections.
Since its inception Sabor Brasil has appeared at many of New York’s leading venues, including Lincoln Center, Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Iridium, B.B. King’s, Birdland, Smoke, Zinc Bar and The Kitano, among many others. The band has also appeared at a variety of festivals and special events, including the Rochester International Jazz Festival, the Savannah Jazz Festival, the Hartford Jazz Festival, New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s (NJPAC) “Sounds of the City” Festival and Central Park’s Harlem Meer Performance Festival.
Apart from Sabor Brasil, Susan is the vocalist/percussionist in the New York-based Vanderlei Pereira and BLINDFOLD TEST. She performed as part of Trio Urbano (with Jamie Baum, flute and Dario Eskenazi, piano) at the Jazzmandu Festival in Katmandu, Nepal, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center, the Syracuse Jazzfest, the Blue Note, Sweet Rhythm and the IAJE in groups led by Brazilian guitarist Nelson Faria, saxophonist Laura Dreyer and guitarist Ben Sher. In Rio de Janeiro, Susan was a special invited guest artist at the Prosper Bank Jazz series at Armazém Digital Leblon. She has sung often with Brazilian pianist Dom Salvador in New York at The River Café and The Water Club. An original member of the percussion ensembles Grupo Batucada and Samba Novo – playing surdo in both and singing lead vocals in Samba Novo – she performed with Grupo Batucada and Jaco Pastorius at the Blue Note and Seventh Avenue South. Other engagements with those groups included opening for Rubén Blades and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and performing at the Statue of Liberty, Lincoln Center, SOB’s and the official pre-Super Bowl party in Miami, among countless other notable venues and public events.
As a percussionist, Susan was invited to play at New York’s Village Gate with Airto Moreira and Flora Purim in an all-star band that included Tito Puente and Giovanni Hidalgo, and in Rio de Janeiro with the São Clemente Samba School in the final Carnaval competitions of 1987 and 1988. She has co-taught samba master classes at the University of Delaware and Rutgers University and is an official endorser of LP Percussion.
As a studio musician Susan has composed, arranged and recorded for OMNI Music and written arrangements and played percussion on the vocal group String of Pearls’ CDs S.O.P. New York – Brazil, Vols. 1 & 2 (Alfa Records). She sang, played and also co-arranged the percussion on saxophonist Laura Dreyer’s CD Mysterious Encounter (Lavasphere Records). Other recordings include Sarah Pillow’s Remixes (Buckyball Music); Ruben Rada’s Montevideo, (Big World Music); Val Green’s Brazilian Tapestry (EMIXX Jazz); Miguel Kertsman’s Gravity Tunnel (Proxima Records); Tom Briggs’s Moonlight (SaturnDisc); Sue Maskaleris’s Unbreakable Heart (Jazilian Records) and Cryptic Soup’s Salty Pretzel Dog Logic (Dental Records).
Susan has studied voice with John Mace, Jeannie Goffi, Ann Ruckert and Charles Walker; piano with Kenny Barron, Jill McManus, Michael Abbott, Joseph Kahn and Milton Kraus; arranging and composition with Don Sebesky and Bill Barron; and percussion with Cyro Baptista, Manoel Monteiro, Abraham Adzenyah and Robert Levin. She is a cum laude graduate of Wesleyan University, where she earned a B.A. in Music and English with High Honors in Music. Susan has completed Level 3 of Somatic Voicework™The LoVetri Method at the Vocal Pedagogy Institute at Shenandoah University.