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 Interview with Jane Monheit
 Blue Note – Sunday, October 31st 2004 – 9:30 p.m.
 by Eva Simontacchi

Pictures by Alberto Gottardelli
Fai click qui per leggere la versione in italiano

Jane Monheit was born on November 3rd, 1977 and grew up in Oakdale, Long Island. Jane started singing as soon as she could talk; her whole family was, in fact, very musical: both her aunt and her grandmother were professional singers, her mother was involved in musical theater, her father was a banjo player and her brother a rock guitar player. When she was only an elementary school child, she would write, produce, direct and perform her own little theatrical productions for anyone willing to watch. As a girl, she spent countless hours listening to her parents' jazz records, especially Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae and Joni Mitchell, who became her main vocal influences. Her formal vocal training started ad 17 under the guidance of eminent vocal instructor Peter Eldridge, founding member of the vocal group New York Voices. Her college boyfriend, Rick Montalbano, whom she married in 2002, directed her toward the jazz scene by getting her to sing for his jazz quintet. In 1998, when she was 20, she entered the Thelonious Monk Institute Vocal Competition encouraged by Peter Eldridge, and she finished the competition first runner-up, becoming the youngest person ever to hold that distinction in the history of the Monk competition; she came in second place to jazz veteran Teri Thornton. Jane's debut album, "Never Never Land" released in October 2000 featured such jazz luminaries as Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, Bucky Pizzarelli, David "Fathead" Newman, Hank Crawford and Lewis Nash, who provided the perfect musical setting for her smooth, silky soprano.

To date Jane has recorded four albums: "Never Never Land" (2000), which reached the Billboard Jazz top 10 within weeks of its release, "Come Dream With Me" (2001), "In The Sun" (2002) and now "Taking A Chance On Love" (Sony - 2004).

Jane Monheit has been compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Diana Krall, but she forges her own path to stardom with her delicate phrasing and uncanny ability to capture the meaning and essence of a song.

We meet Jane Monheit half an hour before the beginning of her concert at Blue Note, Milano, for a short interview. She is getting ready for her last evening here before her departure for New York, and we are grateful for this opportunity of meeting her personally and having her share with us a few of her precious minutes. Our special thanks go to Julie Cattoli - Blue Note Milano.

Jane is radiant, fresh and beautiful, and greets us with a warm smile. She doesn't look tense even though the concert is about to start.

E.S.: This is your last evening here at Blue Note Milano. Could you tell us something about this set of concerts you held here in Milano?
J.M.: Well, this was actually the last Blue Note in the World that we hadn't played yet, and you know, it's the newest of all of Blue Notes, and I'd heard so much about it from some musician friends of mine who all really loved it here, and definitely it's really a beautiful club, a wonderful place to play. We had a really great time and I'm sure we'll be coming back one of these days, I hope so!

E.S.: So...You liked it!
J.M.: Oh yes! Definitely!

E.S.: Is it somewhat different from the other Blue Notes?
J.M.: No, well...It's similar to the Japanese Blue Notes. It's different from the one in New York. But the Japanese Blue Notes are all very beautiful as well...And there's definitely a similarity, I think, between them...

E.S.: We noticed you're singing a lot of Jobim...
J.M.: I really love all Brazilian music, and I always sing a lot of it, always have. And lately, especially, I've been getting more and more involved with it, and luckily my entire band loves it too, so we just put a lot of it in the show all the time: Jobim, Ivan Lins...

E.S.: Have you got a dream?
J.M.: Oh, gosh! (Jane whispers) You know what? My total dream is to be able to keep doing this, tour all over and make records and everything but be able to have kids and have a family at the same time. To be able to do everything: to be a carreer woman with a family....

E.S.: Is there something you would like your Italian fans to know, or something you would like to say?
J.M.: Well...it's such a beautiful country, and I've always loved travelling here. I first came to Italy when I was fourteen, and I've been travelling here for so many years, so now to get to work here and tour and play in all these beautiful places...It's so wonderful! You know, we love it here, we always try to make as many opportunities as we can to come here, and I would really like to thank everyone for supporting jazz, for supporting our music and we're very lucky to be here and hope to be getting to as many different parts of the country as we can...

E.S.: And somebody who you would like to thank from the bottom of your heart, somebody who inspired you, or somebody who helped you in your carreer, apart, of course, from your parents and family?
J.M.: My band, my touring band, really. You know? They are incredible. They are the most supportive group of people. They are so incredibly hard-working. I could never do what I do without them. They're amazing. And you'll hear it tonight. They are just spectacular musicians, they are amazing, and just beautiful people.

E.S.: Many people were waiting to see you live, your CDs are circulating, people are buying them, so the audience was looking forward to a tour of yours in Italy. What about your future projects?
J.M.: Well, I'm going to be making another album this Spring, but we haven't done anything but the planning for it yet, so I'm not really sure what we're going to be doing, but there will be an album out, a new one, this time next year, which is very cool...

E.S.: You are about to leave. Where are you going after Milano?
J.M.: We're going back to New York, but only for three days; we've got three shows in three days, and then we come back and do a big giant German tour for the rest of the month of November.

Interview in russian language (click)

Related articles:

Interview with Attila Zoller. It's the last Attila interview, he was aware about his health state, he was constrained to assume morfine, but he was available to tell his story, to transmit his love for music. (Bill Donaldson)


Jane Monheit at the Blue Note: "...It is outright clear that she is very gifted and talented. Her pitch is perfect, she's very precise, and she uses dynamics knowingly in order to convey her most intimate feelings, apart from having a wonderful swing..." (Eva Simontacchi)

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Publishing Date: 19/12/2004

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