© Concord Music Group 2007
(28 May 2007) A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, Jane Monheit’s stunning voice is entirely new to this author. Backed by a series of superbly played soft jazz sounds, Monheit's voice is sultry and gentle, yet technically superb, as she and her band create a laid back atmosphere that will surely entice even the most uninterested listener.
On her sixth album, Surrender (Concord Music Group (USA) CCD30050, 2007), Monheit showcases her smooth and precise vocal delivery first and foremost. The vocals are the number one priority on this album, evidenced right from the start, as "If You Went Away" opens with its bombastic string section, bringing to mind the later work of the immortal Judy Garland. It announces to the listener that you are no longer in a world riddled with war, violence, greed, and indifference, for now you are in a gentler far away place, a place with no worries and few cares. Of particular note is the striking saxophone solo late in the song, it’s the perfect crescendo, adding a dynamic to the song that makes it both beautiful and memorable.
Another powerful addition to the album are the guest appearances. "Rio De Maio" features Ivan Lins and his voice perfectly compliments Monheit's. Their back and forth vocal comes together at just the right time and will surely satisfy any lover of soft and romantic music. The keyboard and production work of the legendary Sergio Mendes graces "So Many Stars," and to have Sergio Mendes appear on your album is one of the biggest stamps of approval a young Jazz artist could receive. The trilogy of guest musicians is rounded out by Toots Thielmans' appearance alongside Monheit on "Caminhos Cruzados," another beautiful moment that is music to the ears of genuine lovers of classy music.
Aside from the invited guests Monheit shines on songs like the vocally impressive "Overjoyed" and the album's other Garland-esque moment, "A Time For Love," which closes the album in the same grand fashion it opened with. The entire collection of songs here really offers something different from today’s mainstream music. The music and lyrics work together in a time honored tradition.
Fans of fine vocal or smooth Jazz music will find a lot to love on Surrender. At times Monheit's work surrounds you like the words of an old friend that you have sorely missed. At other times Monheit surrounds you with all the passion of a lost love. Surrender is an often
breathtaking album that anyone who appreciates well produced, well played, and immaculately performed music will find well worth their money.--Mark Fisher in West Virginia