SFJAZZ.org | 5 Things To Know About Jane Monheit

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Jane Monheit

June 15, 2022 | by Rusty Aceves

Jane Monheit

We look forward to the return of vocalist Jane Monheit for a performance at Herbst Theatre on June 18. Here are five things you should know to get you ready for the show.

  1. She is one of the finest vocalists working today.
    The Long Island native was born into a musical household, and was drawn to jazz and Broadway musicals at an early age. She began her professional career while still a high school student and studied at Manhattan School Music under vocalist and composer Peter Eldridge. In 1998, Monheit was a finalist at the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz International Vocals Competition, taking second to the late Teri Thornton. She’s 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 Bublé, David Benoit, Tom Harrell, and Harold Mabern.
  2. She has been a favorite SFJAZZ performer for many years.
    Monheit made her SFJAZZ debut during the 2001 Spring Season on a bill with NEA Jazz Master Dianne Reeves, and has appeared seven times over the years, including a February 2015 performance during the 2014-15 Season titled “Hello Bluebird” and devoted to the music of Judy Garland. Most of Monheit’s concerts feature a cross-section of Great American Songbook standards, treasures from the Brazilian tradition, and her jazz-based interpretations of pop gems. She performed her tribute to Ella Fitzgerald in July 2017 as part of SFJAZZ Summer Sessions, and was scheduled to reprise the show in June 2020 as part of the 38th San Francisco Jazz Festival, but that show was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  3. The music from her last concert at SFJAZZ in 2017 was a tribute to the great Ella Fitzgerald, the subject of her album The Songbook Sessions.
    Monheit’s July 2017 performance was in support of her 2016 album, which was the first released on her own Emerald City imprint. The recording, produced by trumpeter and arranger Nicholas Payton, was intended as homage to Fitzgerald’s now-legendary series of “Song Book” albums recorded for Verve from 1956–1964 that celebrated the music of Cole Porter, Rogers & Hart, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, and other towering contributors to the Great American Songbook.
    Considering the enormous inspiration Fitzgerald has been to Monheit, the album could easily have been a reverent tribute that was slavishly faithful to the original recordings, but with Payton continually encouraging Monheit to be comfortable (but not too comfortable), take chances, and make it her own, it was anything but.
    The desire to push herself resulted in fresh and daring approaches, and the personal tragedies she experienced before and during the making of The Songbook Sessions were poured into her performances, making them both breathtakingly intimate and emotionally raw.
  4. Her newest album, Come What May, is her first in five years and marked her 20th anniversary as a recording artist.
    Touring and devoting time to family meant Monheit didn’t return to the studio for five years after The Songbook Sessions, and her latest album Come What May was released in January of 2021. It’s her debut for Club44 Records — a new Nashville-based label devoted to jazz vocals, Broadway, and cabaret. In Jane’s words, “I can’t say enough amazing things about Club44. I’ve been with many labels over the years – indies, majors, I’ve even made records for my own imprint – and I’ve seen everything. And I’ve never had an experience this easy, this positive and this fun!
    A collection of career-highlight performances that balances well-loved standards like Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Rodgers & Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” with comparative rarities including Jobim’s “Samba Do Aviao” and Harold Arlen’s 1934 Broadway ditty “Let’s Take a Walk Around the Block,” the album is a catharsis in light of the pandemic, and as the title and song selection suggest, is a statement of resiliency and hope. She says, “So much of Come What May is really a way for me to cope with the pandemic in my own personal way. For example, ‘Let’s Take a Walk Around the Block.’ We would all like to visit the magical places listed in the song, but we don’t have any money right now – so let’s just enjoy where we are. I believe everyone can relate to that idea!”
  5. She makes her welcome return to SFJAZZ after nearly five years.
    Monheit was scheduled to reprise her Ella Fitzgerald tribute at SFJAZZ in June 2020 during the San Francisco Jazz Festival, but the show was canceled along with all other concerts when SFJAZZ closed its doors in March 2020. The June 18 performance at Herbst Theatre during the 39th San Francisco Jazz Festival marks her welcome return after almost five years. During that time, she recorded Come What May and will be bringing that material, along with a selection of other favorites, to this engagement. She will be backed by a stellar trio that includes pianist Max Haymer, bassist Karl McComas-Reichl, and drummer Rick Montalbano.

   Jane Monheit and her band perform Cole Porter's "It's All Right With Me"

Originally posted March 22, 2021

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