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In any language, she's masterful

Whether singing in English or Portuguese, Jane Monheit is the real deal.

June 07, 2007|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

JANE MONHEIT can do just about anything she chooses, musically. Blessed with an extraordinarily warm and supple voice, perfect pitch, inventive musicality and an insightful approach to storytelling, she has the capacity to express herself convincingly in virtually any area of the music world.

What she's chosen -- this far, at least -- is jazz. And her performance Tuesday at Catalina Bar & Grill offered plenty of reasons why fans of the genre can be pleased that she's done so. It also underscored the jazz roots of her singing. Monheit has been criticized, unjustly, for the clarity and the focus of her music, for a perceived absence of the rough edges that are presumed necessary in authentic jazz vocalizing.

But the upbeat rhythms Monheit brought to a hard-romping version of "All or Nothing at All," the mastery of the tricky vocalese maze of "Twisted," her jaunty way with the bop phrasing of "Robbins' Nest" were the work of a creative imagination with an intuitive feeling of what jazz is all about.

And she did more. Singing in Portuguese, she offered a convincing take on Antonio Carlos Jobim's "So Tinha de Ser Com Voce," followed by a quick-paced, witty version of his "Waters of March," sung in English and Portuguese. Her stunningly lyrical renderings of "Moon River" and "The Shining Sea" were enhanced by dynamic contrasts rarely used by jazz performers.

Did she do it all with consummate musical precision? Yes. Did that precision in any way diminish either the emotional effect or the jazz essence of Monheit's art? No. And her spontaneous interaction with her first-rate band -- featuring sterling solo work from pianist Michael Kanan, tenor saxophonist Ari Ambrose and guitarist Miles Okazaki -- further emphasized the fact that Monheit is the real jazz deal.


Jane Monheit

Where: Catalina Bar & Grill, 6725 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood

When: 8:30 p.m. today, 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Sunday

Price: $25 to $35

Info: (323) 466-2210

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