GRAMMY®-nominated jazz and cabaret vocalist
"Supremely gifted singer Jane Monheit is capable of tremendous vocal flights, dips, turns and extensions, but she doesn’t grandstand or hold a note simply to show off. Her goal is to convery a story, and she does with 'The Heart of the Matter'." Album Review by Bobby Reed for DOWNBEAT
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“Everything I’m singing now is a reflection of my truest self,” says Jane Monheit. “After all this time in the industry, after touring for 13 years, it’s time to just be me, with complete and utter freedom.”
Monheit’s sense of liberation is apparent throughout The Heart Of The Matter, the acclaimed, Grammy-nominated vocalist’s ninth studio album. It can be felt in her wide- ranging choice of material, in the unique arrangements, and in her own fearless performances and interpretations. The diverse and very personal set of songs includes both familiar standards and compositions by Lennon/McCartney, Randy Newman, two songs by Ivan Lins, recorded in the original Portuguese, and, for the first time, a Monheit original.
“I knew that I wanted the material to be chosen based on the lyrical content”, says Monheit of the eclectic track list. “Over the years, my singing has really taken on that focus. At the beginning of my career, I wanted to show proof of my knowledge of music, that I could improvise and sing through the changes. But as I got older, especially after getting married and having a child, I started feeling the lyrics more simply because I had more to sing about. Focusing on the technical side was part of my learning process, but over time, all of that became a natural part of my singing. Now I use it to support the lyric, not just to prove myself.”
Monheit has been a leading light in both the jazz and cabaret worlds since emerging as a finalist in the Thelonious Monk Institute’s 1998 vocal competition. In addition to her own recordings, she has worked alongside the likes of Terence Blanchard, Tom Harrell, and Ivan Lins. She says that the distinctive, continually surprising sound of The Heart Of The Matter is the result of an especially satisfying collaboration with Grammy-winning producer Gil Goldstein, who has previously worked with such giants as Wayne Shorter, Gil Evans, and Pat Metheny. The pair first joined forces for part of Monheit’s 2009 album The Lovers, The Dreamers, and Me.
From the song choices to the performances, The Heart Of The Matter is a work deeply informed by Jane Monheit’s life- as a woman, wife, and mother in the second decade of a remarkable career- and it reaches emotional levels she attributes to an “extreme comfort zone” in the recording studio. “It was a small group, we’re all friends, and everyone really wanted to be there,” she says. “I’m very close with my band, so to hear Gil’s beautiful work with my family beneath it inspired me to be completely unselfconscious... I think I’ve finally reached my level of onstage, live interpretation in the studio, which has always been a challenge for me.”
“When you’re playing with people you love,” says Monheit, “it always makes for better music.”