Jane Monheit first caught my ear with her guest appearance on Terence Blanchard’s 2001 CD, “Let’s Get Lost.” She was only 24 when she laid down lush, lovely covers of “Too Young to Go Steady” and “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love.”
In the years since, Monheit has released seven CDs. Her latest. “Home,” is a collection of tunes by some of music’s top brass, including Richard Rogers, Billy Rose, Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin and Duke Ellington. Monheit served as sole producer of the CD.
The Grammy-nominated vocalist was raised on Long Island, New York. She studied voice at the Manhattan School of Music and earned a bachelor’s degree in music. In 1998, she was a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Jazz Institute’s vocal competition. She and her husband, drummer Rick Montalbano, have one son.
What makes Monheit stand out in the age of the Mariah Careys, Celine Dions and Christina Aguileras is her straightforward approach to a tune. She doesn’t need vocal gymnastics to make her presence known. She stands up, sings the song and lets the music and lyrics do the rest.
Monheit is right up there with Rosemary Clooney in her ability to hit the dead center of every note that comes out of her mouth.
In “A Shine on Your Shoes,” Monheit is full of pep and positivity. Her easy, breezy take on “There’s a Small Hotel” is so lovely that you’ll wish for more than 4 minutes and 18 seconds. John Pizzarelli joins Monheit for a lovely duet of “Tonight You Belong To Me,” the Billy Rose song made popular in 1964 by Patience and Prudence.
“Home” is a terrific way to discover Monheit’s magic. She’s a talented vocalist with a gift of clarity, tone and the ability to interpret a great lyric.
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