Winnipeg International Jazz Festival
Burton Cummings Theatre
June 21, 2013
Jane Monheit has a voice like honey and she’s funny; what more could you ask for in a jazz singer.
Add a love for good lyrics and a tight trio, and the singer puts on a great show of often emotional, sometimes swinging songs interspersed with witty anecdotes and self-deprecating humour.
Monheit is the real deal: A singer who can wring every bit of emotion out of a song, making you believe she has lived the story the lyrics tell.
Her rendition of the Beatles’ Golden Slumbers/The Long and Winding Road from her latest album, The Heart of the Matter, was so emotional, so poignant, she could have brought tears to your eyes.
Then she eases the tension with a funny line, a laugh, a flip of her hair and she and the audience are ready for another tune.
And there were a lot of good tunes: a smoky rendition of Mel Tormé’s Born to be Blue; Buffy Ste. Marie’s Until It’s Time For You To Go, sung as a lament by a mother losing her little boy to adulthood; and Depende de Nós and A Gente Merece Ser Feliz by Brazilian composer Ivan Lins.
Before singing Depende, Monheit asked if anyone in the audience spoke Portuguese. When no one answered yes, she laughed and said "No? It’s my lucky day." And went on to claim her Portuguese was impeccable.
Her stage patter was amusing, it showed off her personality and the contrast highlighted the emotional depths of her singing.
She and her working band have the kind of rapport built from long hauls on the road and hours in the recording studio; a situation that is harder to find in jazz today.
Monheit is accompanied by Michael Kanan, a delicate pianist who does a lot of arranging for the band, bassist Neil Miner and drummer Rick Montalbano, who does double duty as her husband and father to their five-year-old son who travels with the band.
It’s a pleasure to hear such an expressive singer with such command of her musical instrument; one who drips honey when she sings.
4 stars out of 5