June 14, 2024
Jane Monheit
@ George Weins Jazz Fest
Newport, RI – August 8, 2009
Matt Robinson

“Pretty much everything I do is a great standard, isn’t it?”  With a confident self-summary like that, Jane Monheit left little for we reviewers to say. By staying silent, however, we were able to better appreciate the building subtelties of her set.

Though the vocal angles of the starting songs like a vibratoed “Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” and a horn-helped meander through Jobim’s “So Tinha de Ser Com Voce” were a bit sharp at times, causing Monheit’s early attempts at scat to fall into the cracks, by the time she mixed tempos for “Myself Alone,” not even the off-tempo backup “beep” of a backstage diesel truck could distract the enraptured audience too much.

With a band that included her husband and father-in-law and her infant son clapping and “singing” along just offstage, Monheit grew more and more comfortable as the set went on. Whether she was racing through “Taking a Chance on Love” or drifting through a take on Jimmy Dorsey’s “I’m Glad There is You” that was filled with recently- pregnant pauses, Monheit kept most of the crowd involved, keeping them either in their seats or dancing even when the act on the other festival stage was changing over.

Closing with a crisp and refreshing “Waters of March” that drew applause even before it was done and a multi-colored medley of “Rainbow Connection” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” Monheit blended into the gorgeous Newport day and showed once again what diverse beauty can come from nature.

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