Jazz singer Jane Monheit’s trilling voice fills Buckman Theatre

The distinct voice of jazz singer Jane Monheit filled the air in a packed Buckman Theatre last Wednesday. Dressed in black leather and a glittering bracelet that reflected the dimmed lights, 24-year-old Monheit quickly charmed the crowd while her heels gently tapped the rhythm of the music.
Originally from Long Island, the Manhattan native stopped at Quinnipiac as a part of her worldwide tour promoting the release of her third CD “In the Sun.”
Accompanied by Michael Kanan on piano, Joe Martin on bass, Joel Frahm on saxophone and husband Rick Montalbano on drums, Monheit was a part of the Sonny Costanzo Concert Series.
Monheit gave the audience goose-bumps with her version of “Over the Rainbow,” a song she has been singing since she was two years old. People listened with eyes closed and tilted heads as she succeeded melting troubles away with a voice so soft it could barely be heard, but at times found a strength that remained in the auditorium long after she stopped singing.
Monheit said “Over the Rainbow” was usually at the end of her program, but now a new song on her third album has taken its place.
“I was so nervous about putting ‘Rainbow’ in the middle,” she said. “Everyone is going to leave now.”
All songs in her program were woven together with style and gracefulness. There was never a silent moment during the set.
During “Heaven” and “Just Squeeze Me” members of the audience were toe-tapping and bobbing heads to the swaying music. Sometimes Monheit let her voice become a part of the accompaniment. Other times her wide-ranged voice matched the solos of the improvising instrumentalists
Monheit described herself as being a big fish in a small pond. When she was in high school, she auditioned for “Oklahoma,” but didn’t get the lead role.
“I was very disappointed, because I used to get what I wanted,” she said. “If someone had told me then that I’d be doing this song every night for the rest of my life, I probably would have felt a lot better.”
One of Monheit’s songs on her new album is called “Once I Walked in the Sun” and is written by Brazilian composer Ivan Lins, who appears on the record with his voice and piano.
“I was the first one ever to record it, which is something I’ve never done before,” said Monheit.
Monheit’s first CD “Never Never Land” was released in 2000, right after she graduated from the Manhattan School of Music. The Jazz Journalist Association awarded it with the Critics’ Choice Award for best recording debut.
Her second CD “Come Dream With Me” was released in 2001 and debuted at the top of Billboard’s jazz chart. Monheit has also appeared on PBS in a Fourth of July concert and she has sung “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”
From her vivid facial expressions and her hand casually sweeping through her long red hair, Monheit seemed to enjoy being on stage in Buckman. Audience members said she used to be nervous in past performances, but seems very comfortable now.
“It’s a privilege with such a small setting,” said Nancy Orlando, who attended the Oct. 9 concert with her husband. “We absolutely loved her.”
Afterwards, people lined up to buy Monheit’s new CD. Most seemed pleased with the show.
“Her rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ nearly brought me to tears,” said freshman Justin Pylypiw. “I was blown away.”
Monheit is scheduled to perform at Carnegie Hall on Oct. 21 and will start her European tour in November.