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Jana Nyberg Group Releases "Fever" at Hell’s Kitchen (Minneapolis), August 20th


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It only makes sense that a hot genre-bending jazz/pop band like the Jana Nyberg Group would release a CD titled Fever in Hell's Kitchen! And that's the plan for Saturday night, August 20th, when vocalist Jana Nyberg brings her devilishly smoldering ensemble to downtown Minneapolis after similar celebration in Door County last weekend.

Twin Citian Jana Nyberg is an active music educator as well as jazz/pop/blues singer. In addition to leading the Jana Nyberg Group, she has performed with the Adam Meckler Quintet (led by husband/trumpeter Adam) and pianist Josh Rawlings, and has been a guest artist at the UW Eau Claire Jazz Festival with the UW-Green Bay Jazz Singers and with the Bethel University Jazz Orchestra. Jana is a credentialed music teacher, spending the past year as a substitute in Roseville. In fact it was her students who encouraged her to audition for American Idol last year, starting her down a path that would delay her CD release and land her in Hollywood where she participated in the first round of the national Idol “finals. “ Living a while in Wisconsin, Jana released her self-titled CD debut in 2008. Now back in the Twin Cities, Jana and her group have performed at the Dakota, Hell's Kitchen, and in venues throughout Door County, WI.

Crossing boundaries among jazz, blues, soul, country and pop on Fever, Jana and her very talented crew (husband Adam Meckler on trumpet, Evan Montgomery on guitar, Matt Peterson on bass, Derek Drier on drums) cover such timeless hits as “Desafinado," “The Nearness of You," “I Can't Make You Love Me," and of course the title track. And somehow, Nyberg blends Peggy Lee and Bonnie Raitt. She also shows off her own talents (and those of Adam) as songwriter on four tracks. The Nyberg/Meckler team's opening “Baby Girl's Life" puts plenty of soul into country blues, a showcase for Evan Montgomery's whiney guitar and Adam Meckler's growly trumpet, and most of all for Nyberg's sultry, swaying voice and impeccable timing. Off in a totally different direction, Jobim's “Desafinado" gives Jana a chance to air her light tone on flute, and generally the softer (samba) side of the band. Matt Peterson is particularly effective on his bouncy solo.

I've never been much of a country or pop fan, but have had a soft spot for Bonnie Raitt and particularly “I Can't Make You Love Me." Jana does not disappoint—this is one of the recording's highlights, not only for Jana's slightly biting, wistful tone, but because everyone shines—from Montgomery's floating harmonies, Meckler's bluesy horn, Peterson's solid undertones, and brother Jake Nyberg's rattling percussion. The title track has the necessary degree of seductive heat but is no imitation of Peggy Lee. Jana's rendition is more angular, with Adam's slithery horn providing more smoothing edges. The give-and-take among singer and band, particularly in the final verse, adds some cloak-and-dagger danger to this delightful track.

Hell's Kitchen is the perfect venue for the celebration of Fever, August 20th, 6-9 pm.

Hell's Kitchen is located at 80 S. 9th Street in downtown Minneapolis.

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