Two weekends in February, two highly successful concerts, both under the aegis of UVM's Lane Series, a local presenter with an unquestionably topnotch record for bringing Vermont world-class musical groups, be it either popular music or classical. Cases in point: the appearance of the jazz vocalist Jane Monheit and her trio followed by the most talked-about the string quartet in the world today, the Ebene Quartet.
The concert Feb. 13, was the annual Valentine's Day celebration for the Lane Series, and this year brought us Jane Monheit and her trio.
Monheit is in the tradition of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, and of Keeley Smith at Dakota Staton. It is also the tradition of the Great American Songbook, the works of Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and others equally famous. In addition to these standards, Monheit is accomplished in Brazilian popular music as well as more contemporary American composers. Her method of delivery is exactly right. That she takes some songs at a nontraditional speed is not a matter of concern-remember Streisand and one of her earliest recordings, 'Happy days are here again'.
Technically her voice encompasses quite a nice range, with its especially plangent lower voice, and she uses her voice freely in the service of the music. My only concern centered around the questionable intonation Monheit sometimes employed, especially in the Brazilian part of her repertoire and of some of the more contemporary ballads (to be certain that I heard what I thought I heard at the concert itself, I listened to two of her CDs, and found misintonations in several of the tracks). Prescinding from that, it was a marvelous evening.
The Trio carried me back to my college days, when I used to go with friends to the lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, CA and listen to West Coast jazz. I loved every minute of it.