Sunday, May 25, 2014

Not So Plain Jane (Stage Review: Jane Monheit At Cabaret Jazz at The Smith Center)

Jane Monheit's voice is lush, supple, rich. Truth be told, I sometimes cannot listen to an album of hers in one sitting - the richness can be overwhelming Yet, as tracks, they always satisfy. That voice filled the Cabaret Jazz room at The Smith Center Friday night, and it reached every nook and cranny. It commanded, it powered it, and you had no choice but to be filled with it. I have not seen Ms. Monheit live in a long time. She wasn't as big a star then, and it is fantastic to see her a lot more seasoned. She definitely is a lot more comfortable on stage, and her patter reveals a little girl personality that is cute and appealing, though at times it borders on twee. But it's the voice, that's what's front and center and she brought it. Highlights for me include a melancholy "Born To Be Blue," an effervescent Judy Garland medley of sad songs (The Boy Next Door, The Man That Got Away, etc) and a slow burning "I'm Glad There Is You." Gershwin's  lightweight "My One and Only" suffers from the weight of her voice. Clint Holmes came up to duet on "Everytime We Say Goodbye," and their voices blended well enough.  I sometimes get hot and tepid on her melisma-like improvisations cause sometimes I feel they are too rehearsed. But that's just me being critical - she was in fine form, and in a perfect venue. It was as close to a magical night as one would get. In this world of ordinary singers, I am glad there is Jane.

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