August 2001

Jane Monheit - Come Dream With Me
N-Coded Music NC 4219-2
Released: 2001

by John Crossett

Musical Performance *****
Recording Quality ***
Overall Enjoyment ****1/2

[Reviewed on CD]Jane Monheit has, of late, been all the buzz on the Internet. Within a relatively short period of time, she has managed to get audiophiles' and jazz lovers' hearts a-racin’ and tongues a-waggin’. Come Dream With Me should propel Ms. Monheit into the forefront of the jazz-diva ranks. The deft vocal touches that she gives to songs such as "I’m Through With Love," "I’ll Be Seeing You" and "Blame It On My Youth" give ample evidence that she not only understands the pieces, but also has the talent and skill to make them fresh and new. And that, my friends, is no minor coup. Come Dream With Me heralds a bright future for Jane Monheit.

Check out her band here: Kenny Barron on piano, Christian McBride on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums make up the core group, with support from Tom Harrell on trumpet, Michael Brecker on sax, Richard Bona on guitar and fretless bass, and a string section (on three of the tracks). When guys like these clamor to play with a singer, you know she must be something special.

One of Ms. Monheit's most appealing qualities is the way she seems, at times, to channel Ella Fitzgerald. Monheit owes a huge debt to Queen Ella, yet she never comes across as a Fitzgerald clone; she has simply realized what Fitzgerald did so well, and she uses that knowledge to enhance her own singing.

The sound here is something of a mixed bag. While the vocals are front and center, and 3-D, I never got that wonderful feeling that Ms. Monheit was in the room with me. Drummer Hutchinson's cymbals shimmer nicely and his drum sound is detailed and precise. McBride’s bass is full, deep and articulate; Barron’s piano is cleanly rendered. There is both width and depth -- at least, to a point. And yet, there seems to be a slight veil over the sound, as if the top end were somewhat cut off. But, all in all, this is a decent-sounding disc. The recording certainly won’t get in the way of the music, and that is very important.

There is already a large wave of support forming for Jane Monheit. With each new release it picks up both speed and power. Come Dream With Me should turn it into a tidal wave. Walk the shore of jazz divadom at your own peril; the Monheit tsunami may just sweep you away. And I don’t think you’ll mind a bit.