33 West St.
Annapolis, MD, 21401
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 21 and over
Watch & Listen
Blessed with “a voice of phenomenal beauty” (Stephen Holden, New York Times), Jane Monheit has had plenty of milestone moments in establishing herself as one of today’s best and most important vocalist-musicians.
With her new album, The Songbook Sessions: Ella Fitzgerald—the first to be released on her own Emerald City Records—the Long Island native has surprised even herself with her artistic leap. Jane had thought about recording an Ella tribute for a long time. Fitzgerald’s beloved songbook albums held “Biblical” importance for her when she was growing up and have never lost their hold on her.
On this new offering, Monheit pays joyous tribute to Ella while sharing a definitive portrait of herself, guided by her producer, arranger, and trumpet great, Nicholas Payton. Once she decided to make the dream project a reality, she had no trouble choosing titles. She jotted down a list of 25 titles “almost immediately.” She and Payton each narrowed the choices to a dozen and settled on the final list together.
“We met in the middle in a lot of ways,” Monheit says. “It all came down to trust. I had no idea what to expect from Nicholas because we had never worked together, but it was evident from the start that he is a sensitive soul and his knowledge and understanding of history was beyond compare. I felt an instant trust in him I had never felt before with any other producer.”
“This record is really different,” she adds. “It’s the first I’ve made a recording without a label and so I was able to make all the decisions myself. Honestly, when I listened back to the takes, I heard a different singer than I’ve heard before—a more mature one. It was a little scary because there’s a certain raw quality to some of the vocals but we gave no thought to fixing them. These were the vocals of a 38-year-old woman with a lot of life experience. These tracks really express who I am.”
“My first priority was to make Jane comfortable, so all she had to worry about was showing up and singing,” says Payton, who first met her in Brazil about five years ago and stayed in touch casually. “But on the other hand, I wanted to make her a little uncomfortable by pushing her into places she might not push herself. She is so multifaceted. I wanted to showcase a lot of different things she loves to do on any given night with her band that haven’t necessarily been brought forth on her recordings.”
Throughout the recording, Jane’s gorgeous upward swoop is pure Ella, her earthy wordless phrases pure Sarah, but this album is a classic example of a singer leading her influences rather than being led by them.
Jane Monheit was born on November 3, 1977. She was raised in Oakdale, New York, on Long Island’s South Shore. Her aunt and grandmother were professional singers. Her mother performed in musical theater and currently performs in local choirs, and her father plays banjo and guitar. His love of bluegrass, folk, and acoustic blues (Bonnie Raitt and Maura O’Connell were among his favorites) shaped her musical sensibility. “It all came down to storytelling,” she says.
Jane went on to study voice at the Manhattan School of Music with Peter Eldridge, a founding member of the vocal group New York Voices. She graduated with honors in 1999 and received the William H. Borden Award for outstanding accomplishment in jazz. It was at MSM that she met her husband, drummer Rick Montalbano. They married soon after college.
At the young age of 20, Jane became first runner-up in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute’s vocal competition behind the late, great Teri Thornton. Soon after, Jane released her stunning debut album, Never Never Land, featuring Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, and Lewis Nash. The first of four recordings for N-Coded—a label founded by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen with Phil Ramone—the album was voted Best Recording Debut by the Jazz Journalists Association and stayed on the Billboard jazz chart for a year.
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