Blessed with “a voice of phenomenal beauty” (Stephen Holden, New York Times), Jane Monheit has had plenty of milestone moments in establishing herself as one of today’s best and most important vocalist-musicians.
Come What May, her first album in five years, highlights her fresh takes on first-rate standards, with deft interpretations honed after years on the road. “There is a certain comfortability that comes from performing a song night after night to audiences around the world,” she says. “So by the time we finally got into the studio to make this record, I had the luxury of the arrangements being perfectly familiar, rehearsed, and polished. Putting together this project was a smooth, relaxed process and I think that’s reflected in the final product.”
Monheit has achieved two goals in both making an album that sounds timeless, yet still addressing the current moment. “So much of Come What May is really a way for me to cope with the pandemic in my own personal way,” she explains. “For example, ‘Let’s Take a Walk Around the Block.’ We would all like to visit the magical places listed in the song, but we don’t have any money right now – so let’s just enjoy where we are. I believe everyone can relate to that idea!”
Jane’s lifelong love affair with Brazilian music comes alive with another song about travel, the Antônio Carlos Jobim standard “Samba Do Avião,” also known as “Song of the Jet.” “Musicians are accustomed to traveling the world non-stop,” she comments, “and now that we’re all grounded, it feels very strange. I miss touring so much that I just can’t explain. I literally dream of being back on the road!”
On the flip side of the pandemic experience, the exuberant, feel-good medley of “On the Sunny Side of the Street” and “Get Happy” is an opportunity to lift spirits. “People stuck at home need a little encouragement and cheer,” Jane says, “The album has some sad, heavy tunes and I knew we needed to balance those with some levity.” That same notion inspired her lighthearted take on the musical theater classic “I Believe in You,” which opens this collection on a brisk high note.
Other selections reflect Monheit’s adoration of the legendary vocalists that preceded her. “I’ve worshipped Judy Garland my entire life, but the first version of ‘The Man That Got Away’ I ever heard was from Ella Fitzgerald. Her interpretation is so matter-of-fact. In my version, I tried to balance Judy’s glorious drama with Ella’s subtlety. This track is an homage to both my heroes.”
In fact, Come What May is all the more special considering the unique bond that Jane shares with her musicians. “Michael and I go back over two decades,” she continues. “I love that man with all my heart, he’s like my big brother. And then of course our drummer is my husband Rick Montalbano. We’re coming up on our 20th wedding anniversary! It’s always a delight to work together, but this project has a particular resonance. For the last few years we haven’t been able to tour together since our son is in school, and Rick stays home with him. So one bright spot of the pandemic is we’re in the same city so we can make music again together.”
Jane adds, “I am thrilled at the wonderful contributions of our west-coast bass player David Robaire, Kevin Winard on percussion, and Miles Okazaki on guitar, and I love that we could add some beautiful strings, one of those magical additions to give the record that extra sparkle."