Tickets for Jane Monheit are $30 each, with a discount for seniors and rush tickets for students. Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at the Rockwell Hall Box Office, 1300 Elmwood Ave., by calling 716-878-3005 or online at www.buffalostate.edu/pac. Box Office hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
It's hard to believe that a scant seven years have passed since a 22-year-old Long Islander named Jane Monheit - now renowned as one of the worlds most beloved and accomplished song stylists - signed her first recording contract, for Manhattan's relatively small but enthusiastically supportive N-Coded label.
Her debut album, Never Never Land, introduced the world to two indisputable facts. First, as the cover portrait demonstrated, Monheit is a stunning, raven-haired beauty. Second, as the ten standards that filled the impressive disc made immediately obvious, Monheit, with her crystalline voice and buttery phrasing, was (and remains) impossible to pigeonhole, simultaneously suggesting the smarts of a seasoned jazz artist and the cunning storytelling skills of the finest cabaret performers. Her 2002 appearance at Rockwell Hall was a season highlight.
Since then, two of her recordings have received Grammy nominations, she has known the sweet satisfaction of chart-topping success (several of her discs have debuted at number one), done her festive duty with a stunning Christmas album (The Season), and found herself moving to Sony for her two most recent albums, 2004's Taking a Chance on Love and the subsequent yuletide disc.
Now, for Surrender, her seventh album in as many years, Monheit has opted to follow such estimable vocal predecessors as Rosemary Clooney, Mel Torm?, Ray Charles, Curtis Stigers and Karrin Allyson into the artist-friendly fold of the Concord Music family.
Surrender finds Jane in the welcome and familiar company of regular bandmates Michael Kanan (piano and Fender Rhodes), Miles Okazaki (acoustic and electric guitars), bassist Orlando Le Fleming, saxophonist Ari Ambrose and drummer Rick Montalbano (whose connection to Monheit runs deeper than any of her other accompanists - last Spring, they celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary).
As Jane's recording history so clearly indicates, the beat of Brazil is never far from her musical heart. Indeed, her fascination with Brazilian rhythms, rhymes and composers dates all the way back to Never Never Land and its gently cheerful "Dindi" and continued apace through 2001's Come Dream with Me and In the Sun (which marked Jane's first recording in Portuguese, with a superbly satisfying reading of Ivan Lins' "Come?ar de Novo"). "It is an absolutely stunning language," enthuses Jane. "I love Brazil and it's people. We've traveled there so much, and because of the incredible experiences we've had there, it has become very important to us to play this music with as much authenticity as possible, out of our tremendous respect for the composers. A lot of the songs don't have translations, or if they do they are bad ones; and I just love singing in Portuguese."
"I knew," says Jane, "that I wanted this project to focus more on Brazilian music because that's where my life is and where my band is. It's not just me, but the entire band that has been moving in that direction. What's happening with the guys in the band is very, very important to me. Even though I'm considered a solo artist, being part of a band is of utmost importance to me, so we tend to move together in the same direction, and for years we've all being moving more and more toward Brazilian music. I thought it would be a nice idea to do an album of romantic bossa novas and then intersperse them with ballads, so that's what happened."
The Great Performers Series is sponsored by M&T Bank and WBFO.