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Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009

Jane Monheit Wows Wilson Center Crowd

Theater Review

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Saturday proved to be an evening of charm and seduction as pop jazz singer Jane Monheit and her stellar trio won over the capacity crowd at the Wilson Center for the Arts. In the course of two sets spanning two hours (with a 25-minute intermission), Monheit demonstrated that her youthful age (she turns 32 on Nov. 3) belies her ability to sing the standards with as much subtlety and nuance as the jazz greats that have influenced her.

Monheit easily moved through the opener, George Gershwin’s “I Was Doing Alright,” and on to contemporary songs such as Corinne Bailey Rae’s “Like a Star,” filling the tune with a lush, expressive quality repeated throughout the evening. Irving Berlin featured prominently, from the introspective “It’s a Lovely Day Today” to the up-tempo “Cheek to Cheek,” and Monheit’s favorite composer, Brazil’s Ivan Lins, was treated with an almost reverential vibe with the gorgeous ballad “No Tomorrow.”

There is a synergy between Monheit’s singing and the triumvirate of her longtime pianist Michael Kanan, bassist Neal Miner and drummer (and husband) Rick Montalbano. The trio creates an intricate sound that seamlessly supports Monheit’s vocals.

Given all the times that audiences have heard “Over the Rainbow,” who’d have thought this timeless classic could reach greater heights with such fragility and heartfelt emotion? Monheit mined it for all it was worth—much to the audience’s delight.