ProMusica Swings and Sings with Jane Monheit
Yehudi Menuhin once said he couldn’t “swing” unless he was playing alongside jazz great Stephane Grappelli. They would go on to record some eleven releases together. The swing was in high gear last Friday night as ProMusica Chamber Orchestra was joined by amazing jazz vocalist Jane Monheit in the Southern Theatre. If you haven’t ever been to a ProMusica concert, this is a perfect place to begin. ProMusica’s Annual Gala offers a snapshot of the ProMusica family and how much making music means to each member. Each year, the musicians of ProMusica donate their services for the Gala performance to help support ProMusica. Couple that with the fabulous music performed in the season finale, and it’s an unbeatable combination.
Jane Monheit knew early in life that jazz was her calling. Her aunt and grandmother were professional singers, her Dad plays bluegrass banjo, her Mom was in musical theatre, and her brother is a guitarist. Her main musical influence beyond family was Ella Fitzgerald.
Jane met her husband, Rick Montalbano, Jr., while both were attending Manhattan School of Music, where they hooked up both personally and professionally. She and Rick have been nearly inseparable since, as he tours with her on drums. Add to that their now 2-year-old son Jack, who usually travels with them, and you have something that is tough to achieve in the music business, a family that has the luxury of, well, actually being a family.
That feeling of family extends beyond Rick and Jack. When you’re in the room with Jane, Rick, Michael Kanan, pianist and arranger, and Neal Miner, bass and arranger, it is obvious they are as tight-knit personally as they are musically. This also explains why Jane dedicated her 2009 recording the lovers, the dreamers, and me, to son Jack and the late producer Joel Dorn, who had worked his magic with such performers as Roberta Flack, Bette Midler, and the Neville Brothers. Dorn had produced Jane’s first three albums and Jane carries his memory with her onstage and into the studio.
Things have changed a lot for Jane and crew since she first began recording. She gets taken more seriously as a musician, and she doesn’t tend to go “glamorous” like she once did.
Join Timothy Russell and the musicians of ProMusica Chamber Orchestra when the 2010-2011 season begins this Fall. I promise you a great time! Information is available at 614-464-006, or at promusicacolumbus.org. — Boyce Lancaster