'Surrender' brings us two Jane Monheits for the price of one.
Kathryn Shackleton 2007
Surrender brings us two Jane Monheits for the price of one. One’s a virtuoso show singer, focusing on vowels and vibrato. The other lightens up, lingers over consonants and tunes into her inner Brazilian.
The first version of Jane sings ‘'A Time for Love'’ and ‘'Moon River'’, while legendary Argentinian composer-arranger Jorge Calandrelli turns the schmaltz up to the max, swamping the arrangements with strings. Jane’s virtuosity is obvious, but her personality and dynamics seem stifled by the orchestration.
As she moves away from these easy-listening ballads, though, Jane becomes her own person. The title track (written by Jane’s vocal coach) is a contemporary waltz that gives her more space to define the mood, which turns strong and sultry. Guitarist Miles Okazaki throws in a bluesy solo and Jane’s drummer-husband Rick Montalbano gets his teeth into the dynamics with British bassist Orlando Le Fleming in strong support.
Where the South American influences are strongest on this album, the second version of Jane kicks off her shoes and relaxes. Thankfully, the strings are turned down when Toots Thielemans turns up. He brings his poignant, uplifting harmonica to Jobim and Mendonca’s beautiful ‘'Caminhos Cruzados'’, and Jane’s satin-sheen voice glides effortlessly over the rhythm section. The great Brazilian musicians Ivan Lins and Sergio Mendes are also on hand to work with Jane and come up with some of her Latin material. Lins duets with Jane on his own romantic '‘Rio de Maio'’ where the languid guitar lines become waves lapping on a deserted beach and delicate percussion is the fizz of champagne. ‘'So Tinha de Ser Com Voce'’ is the highlight of this clutch of Bossas, all sung in Portuguese. It’s breezy, sexy and devil-may-care. Jane has a great vocal range, and enjoys using it here, her velvety low tones cheeky and seductive.
Surrender may be Jane Monheit’s way of saying ‘adeus’ to heavily-arranged standards and show tunes, in favour of more contemporary material. If so, a world of new possibilities will open up for her. Watch this space...