Some reviews should be easy, particularly when the artist is established, celebrated, and universally esteemed. Almost anyone interested in contemporary jazz and pop singing knows Jane Monheit. Quoting SFJAZZ directly, "In 1998, Monheit was a finalist at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Vocals Competition, taking second to the late Teri Thornton. She recorded twelve albums, was a GRAMMY nominee for her 2004 Sony release Taking a Chance on Love, and has worked with Terence Blanchard, Ivan Lins, Michael Buble, David Benoit, Tom Harrelll, and Harold Mabern." Monheit has great chops, a terrific voice, and is surrounded by great musicians, including her husband, Rick Montalbano on drums. She draws heavily on the Great American Songbook. Monheit's story is compelling on every level.
Monheit is a great singer but, plainly, not to everyone's taste.
This intends no disrespect. It is, frankly, more a matter of her style and lyric interpretation. There will be some who will find "I Believe in You" as close to definitive as it is possible to find. "When a Woman Loves a Man" follows. Monheit's first chorus ends on an odd growling scat (and a great piano solo by Michael Kanan). "Let's Take A Walk Around the Block," is mostly straight ahead, and brightly swinging. Some will find her reading of "Lush Life" affecting, but others, simply affected and overwrought, not to say disappointing. "Samba Do Avião" is fine, her Brazilian Portuguese pronunciation notwithstanding. "The Nearness of You" lends itself to Monheit's style. "On The Sunny Side of the Street/Get Happy" recalls Ella Fitzgerald, with yet another great piano solo. One would like to hear more of Monheit singing this way, preserving the melody and the lyric. The same is true of "The Man That Got Away," especially Monheit's casual throwaway, "good riddance," which sounds like she means it. "My Funny Valentine" includes a verse which few will have heard and showcases the sheer beauty of her voice.
Most listeners will think this a remarkable recording. And it is, one agrees, like it or not.
I Believe in You; When A Woman Loves A Man; Let's Take A Walk Around The Block; Lush Life; Let's Face the Music And
Dance; Samba de Aviao; The Nearness of You; On The Sunny Side of the Street/Get Happy;The Man That Got Away; My