A Voice Like Sparkling Water

     Everybody has their favorite voice variant that defines how they want to hear certain songs in the American Songbook.  For me,  its the melted caramel warmth of Ella Fitzgerald when she sings Rogers and Hart’s Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered , or Frank Sinatra’s masculine yet vulnerable rendition of Gershwin’s It Had To Be You.  The modern versions lean toward voice over interpretation,  production over emotion too often.  There are however some very talented singers out there who get it and are fashioning another layer of American jazz excellence onto the beautiful songs of the 20th century that merit a close listen.  One such singer is the beautiful Jane Monheit, who is managing at a very young age to marry the sophisticated and nuanced emotional overtones of the best songs with her pristine pitch, while not ignoring the emotional questions of thoughtful lyrics.  Monheit, with a nearly perfect singing voice, is making a mark on listeners like me that want to feel and live a song as much as hear it.

     Jane Monheit is in 2011 only 33 years old,  but has been in the jazz singers lime light almost since her high school graduation.   She is an accomplished graduate of the Manhattan School of Music and already has multiple critically acclaimed albums.  Her singing voice trends toward light operatic, but rhythmic grasp is night club.  She is especially strong in the dancing rhythms of South American composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, but has sufficient swing inflection to handle Gershwin and Berlin.  Monheit’s voice is has a mountain spring like quality, with sun dappled inflections that sparkle and tingle. Her youthful sound  brings a yearning and optimism to even the sadder lyrics that sometimes seems insufficiently time-weary, but she is a professional performer that is willing to challenge herself and the listener, and that makes her more interesting to me than the musings of a Diana Krall.

     We are living in a time where the mature introspection of the great songs that reflected our society’s coming of age in the middle third of the last century, is being lost to sophomoric and superficial machinations about sensations rather than feelings.  I look to Jane Monheit and other young artists like her, to continue our education and acknowledgement of the life long  journey of discovery as to who we really are…

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