Infinity Music Hall & Bistro
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Jane Monheit



Sat, May 16, 2015
Norfolk, CT
Show: 8 PM

Ticket INFO

Price: $45 - $65

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Jazz / Vocal
Jane Monheit

Jane Monheit is an extraordinarily gifted jazz vocalist whose sincere and romantic interpretations of exceptional songs has made her a favorite in both the jazz and cabaret worlds. Monheit has garnered numerous accolades in the past decade. Her first album, Never Never Land, was voted top debut recording by the Jazz Journalistʼs Association and stayed on the Billboard Jazz chart for over a year. Subsequent albums either charted high, or in several cases, debuted at number one, and yielded two Grammy nominations in the Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals category, recognizing the work of Vince Mendoza on 2002ʼs In The Sun and 2004ʼs Taking A Chance On Love.

Jane Monheit

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Artist Bio

Blessed with “a voice of phenomenal beauty” (Stephen Holden, New York Times), Jane Monheit has had plenty of milestone moments in establishing herself as one of today’s bestand most important vocalist-musicians.

With her new album, The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald—the first to be released on her own Emerald City Records—the Long Island native has surprised even herself with herartistic leap. Jane had thought about recording an Ella tribute for a long time. Fitzgerald’sbeloved songbook albums held “Biblical” importance for her when she was growing up andhave never lost their hold on her.

On this new offering, Monheit pays joyous tribute to Ella while sharing a definitive portrait of herself, guided by her producer, arranger, and trumpet great, Nicholas Payton. Once she decided to make the dream project a reality, she had no trouble choosing titles. She jotteddown a list of 25 titles “almost immediately.” She and Payton each narrowed the choices to adozen and settled on the final list together.

“We met in the middle in a lot of ways,” Monheit says. “It all came down to trust. I had noidea what to expect from Nicholas because we had never worked together, but it was evident from the start that he is a sensitive soul and his knowledge and understanding of history was beyond compare. I felt an instant trust in him I had never felt before with any otherproducer.”

“This record is really different,” she adds. “It’s the first I’ve made a recording without a labeland so I was able to make all the decisions myself. Honestly, when I listened back to thetakes, I heard a different singer than I’ve heard before—a more mature one. It was a littlescary because there’s a certain raw quality to some of the vocals but we gave no thought tofixing them. These were the vocals of a 38-year-old woman with a lot of life experience.These tracks really express who I am.”

“My first priority was to make Jane comfortable, so all she had to worry about was showing up and singing,” says Payton, who first met her in Brazil about five years ago and stayed intouch casually. “But on the other hand, I wanted to make her a little uncomfortable bypushing her into places she might not push herself. She is so multifaceted. I wanted to showcase a lot of different things she loves to do on any given night with her band thathaven’t necessarily been brought forth on her recordings.”

Throughout the recording, Jane’s gorgeous upward swoop is pure Ella, her earthy wordlessphrases pure Sarah, but this album is a classic example of a singer leading her influences rather than being led by them.

From the first song, “All Too Soon,” a highlight of Fitzgerald’s Duke Ellington Songbook, it’sevident that this album is not going to be your usual Ella salute—the kind that plays up the incomparable singer’s swinging, scatting, girlish side. Monheit is all woman here, pouringherself into the lyric with sultry savoir faire.

“I thought it was important to capture the side of Ella that sometimes gets played down, herwarmth and sincerity and the depth of her singing,” says Monheit. “I’m closer to that side, as a musician, than the crazy swinging total genius side of her.”

The Songbook Sessions was recorded during a tumultuous time for Monheit, who had suffered several shakeups in her personal life. The most painful was the death of her grandfather, her biggest fan and most devoted coach, who often would put together lists of the songs he wanted her to record and printed out the lyrics for her. Among those songs wasIrving Berlin’s “I Used to Be Color Blind,” the one song she had to learn for the album. Hergrandfather died before he could hear her version, but clearly, his spirit was in the room.“Like the artist that she is, instead of cowering away from life situations that were quitepainful, Jane put that into the music,” says Payton.

When asked “Why now?” in starting her own label, Emerald City Records, Jane elaborates: “You have no idea how exhausting it was, bouncing from label to label,” she says. “I was onfive labels in 13 years. Everyone wanted to mold me into something else. It was like, be this person, wear this outfit, sound like this. It became harder and harder to put trust in peopleand to be myself. They would take control and things didn’t turn out the way I wanted.” Allthe creative pushing and pulling Jane was subjected to as a young artist took its toll.

Fast-forward to today and enter Nicholas Payton: “For a long time, a lot of people didn’t take her seriously,” he says. “She was dismissed as a young sex kitten type of symbol with a prettyvoice.” Having followed her career and spent some time with her socially, he knew how hardshe had worked to develop as a singer, and how powerful of an individual she could be.

Monheit says: “From the start, Nick insisted that telling a story, a truthful story, laying it allout, was most important, not just playing to each other. He wasn’t planning on playing onthe album, but after we discovered what strong chemistry we had, it was inevitable that we had to play together. It was a real honor and a thrill for me.”

As the arranger of eight of the songs, Payton also updated the harmonies and overall feel ofseveral of the tunes. “I wanted to make them romantic and sexy,” he says. “We look at love and sex a lot differently today than we did 60 years ago.” Longtime band mates, pianist Michael Kanan and bassist Neal Miner, who each arranged two songs, also made contributions to the fresh arrangements on the album.

Jane Monheit was born on November 3, 1977. She was raised in Oakdale, New York, on LongIsland’s South Shore. Her aunt and grandmother were professional singers. Her mother performed in musical theater and currently performs in local choirs, and her father plays banjo and guitar. His love of bluegrass, folk, and acoustic blues (Bonnie Raitt and MauraO’Connell were among his favorites) shaped her musical sensibility. “It all came down to storytelling,” she says.

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