Jane Monheit: Greatest Hits

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Jane Monheit

Greatest Hits

Venetian Room, San Francisco, CA, November 8, 2015

Reviewed by Steve Murray for Cabaret Scenes

Jane-Monheit-Birdland-Cabaret-Scenes-Magazine_212After ten albums, two Grammy Award nominations and sold-out performances worldwide, Jane Monheit can certainly perform a set of greatest hits if she wants to.  Coincidentally, her personal favorites, combined with fan requests, make for a sensational evening of some of her finest performances of the Great American Songbook.

Couple that with a preview of Monheit’s forthcoming Ella Fitzgerald project and you have one of the finest vocal performances of the year.

Backed by one of the best swing bands around (Michael Kanan on piano, Neal Miner on bass and her husband, Rick Montalbano, on percussion), Monheit’s sensual vocals massaged the lyrics of Irving Berlin’s “I Used to Be Color Blind,” Cole Porter’s “All of You” and “Taking a Chance on Love” (Vernon Duke with lyrics by John Latouche and Ted Fetter) with the band cooking and bubbling the rhythms underneath and in between.

Her cover of Rodgers and Hart’s “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” becomes a jazzy opus, her vocals stretching over the melody and Montalbano’s steamy drumbeats.  Ballads flow easily: “All Too Soon” (Duke Ellington/Carl Sigman) and “In a Sentimental Mood” (Ellington/Manny Kurtz) sung à la Fitzgerald with Monheit’s very delicate phrasing. She was recuperating from bronchitis, coughing between lyrics, yet never missing a beat, to which she credited the “special prescription ‘Tussin.” At 38, Monheit is a seasoned pro, delivering the goods come what may.

By the encore of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s lyrically difficult “Waters of March,” I was once again astounded and impressed by her style and skill.

Steve Murray

Always interested in the arts, Steve was encouraged to begin producing and, in 1998, staged four, one-man vehicles starring San Francisco's most gifted performers. In 1999, he began the Viva Variety series, a live stage show with a threefold mission to highlight, support, and encourage gay and gay-friendly art in all the performance forms, to entertain and document the shows, and to contribute to the community by donating proceeds to local non-profits. The shows utilized the old variety show style popularized by his childhood idol Ed Sullivan. He’s produced over 150 successful shows, including parodies of Bette Davis’s gothic melodramedy Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte and Joan Crawford’s very awful Trog. He joined Cabaret Scenes 2007 and enjoys the writing and relationships he’s built with very talented performers.