NEVER NEVER LAND - Jane Monheit
LABEL: N-Coded Music
TRACK LISTING: Please Be Kind, Detour Ahead, More Than You Know, Dindi, Save Your Love For Me, Never Let Me Go, My Foolish Heart, I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good), Twisted, Never Never Land
IMPRESSIONS: In June 2000, I began working at Borders in charge of classical music cds; at that time (when Borders KNEW what it was doing) every section of books, music and video had a person expert in that section in order to provide top assistance to customers. This is how you sell things. World, take note. Anyway, Maz was in charge of the jazz cds and I would often ask her to recommend some tasty jazz albums to me; many of my favourite jazz albums were purchased on her say so. One day, she brought me over to a listening station to listen to this "brand new kid" with the great voice: it was Jane Monheit. She does have what someone called a voice "about as close to flawless as a human can get" and this debut certainly demonstrates that for all to hear. In listening to her subsequent albums, I sometimes noticed a tiny bit of the spark of emotion missing in her singing; a complaint sometimes levelled against the great Ella Fitzgerald for being technically brilliant but a little cold. However, this debut album doesn't suffer from that at all; here (probably due to her endlessly working many of these songs for competition) Monheit sings with a great deal of warmth. She perhaps doesn't manage to get as silly as she should on Annie Ross' "Twisted" but her love ballads sound suitably smitten and/or broken-hearted (as each song requires). Jane's take on Sammy Cahn's "Please Be Kind" is wonderfully playful and upbeat on a song which is usually performed more low-key. On "I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good), Monheit sings the rarely-heard verse which she heard on her "Bible" the Ella Fitzgerald "Duke Ellington Songbook" album so the comparison earlier to Ella is certainly justified. This debut also features the beginning of Monheit's obsession with Brazilian bossa nova with the inclusion of Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi"; Monheit usually has at least one Jobim/Brazilian bossa nova tune on her albums.
MY FAVOURITE TRACKS: Please Be Kind, Detour Ahead, More Than You Know, Dindi, Save Your Love For Me, Never Let Me Go, I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good), Twisted
GUEST ARTISTS: Kenny Barron (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Lewis Nash (drums), David "Fathead" Newman (tenor saxophone), Hank Crawford (alto saxophone)
FACT SHEET: NEVER NEVER LAND is Jane Monheit's first album. "The Mermaid" (a nickname given to her because of her long hair) was only 22 when she recorded her debut album. A lifelong singer, she came to New York when she was 17 and enrolled in the Manhattan School of Music. After a string of bar gigs, she entered the 1998 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocal Competition in Washington, D.C. during her senior year. . ."and was cut". After receiving a letter saying she was out, she then received a phone call saying she was in. After making the finals, she came in second place for a $10,000 prize.