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Her clear, expressive voice is ideally suited for dreamy ballads. She swings. Her range is full and she articulates quite flexibly. Accuracy seems to come naturally. Emotion plays a large part in her performance. And she's only 24.
Jane Monheit interprets lyrics. She also surrounds the room with wordless vocals that paint colorful scenery. Backed by Kenny Barron and an all-star line-up, her latest album seems destined for success. Yet, there's a small problem with the performance. It becomes quite clear on the three tracks she performs with lone accompanist. An ounce of dramatic tension overshadows each number. A show singer will usually employ such melodrama to ensure that the audience gets the message. And ballads require a certain amount of tension, no matter the setting. However, to be convincing, a jazz singer must also balance the performance with a natural, loose spirit. This one runs tightly throughout, and drowns itself in somber thoughts.
What's needed are soulful changes in emotion that would provide something more comfortable. Overdubbing her own voice, Monheit attains perfect harmony with superbly crafted lines. Michael Brecker and Tom Harrell add interesting interludes. Brecker is particularly creative on "I'll Be Seeing You." Surrounded by exciting sidemen and possessing superb musical skills, Monheit would seem to have it made. There's no doubt she's on her way.
Track Listing: Over the Rainbow; Hit the Road to Dreamland; Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most; Waters of March; I'm Through with Love; I'll be Seeing You; Something to Live For; So Many Stars; If; Blame it on My Youth; A Case of You.
Personnel: Jane Monheit: vocals; Kenny Barron: piano; Christian McBride: acoustic bass, electric bass (9); Gregory Hutchinson: drums; Tom Harrell: trumpet; Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone; Richard Bona: acoustic guitar and fretless bass (11).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.