Singer Jane Monheit had just entered her 20s when she captured the second spot in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Institute’s international vocal competition – finishing between veteran Teri Thornton, who came in first and passed away in 2000, and Roberta Gambarini who emerged in third place. The New York-raised Monheit, who is at Dazzle on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, began singing at an early age and went to the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Peter Eldridge (a founding member of New York Voices).
Her performance in the Monk competition generated a good deal of interest and she released her first disc in 2000, titled Never Never Land, where she was joined by players like Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, “Fathead” Newman and Hank Crawford. Monheit is comfortable with standards done in a strong jazz vein with a nod to a broader, crossover audience.
On her current CD, The Songbook Sessions – Ella Fitzgerald, pays homage to her musical hero Ella with a dozen tunes celebrating “the first lady of song” who would have been a 100 on April 25 of this year. On the disc, Monheit pushes her own envelope a bit with an outing produced/arranged by trumpeter Nicholas Payton, who was at Dazzle recently with his Afro-Caribbean Remix project. Payton also plays trumpet on almost all of the tracks, on the first album from Monheit’s own label Emerald City Records, along with piano and organ.
In his notes for the CD, Payton writes that in terms of lyrical expression, Monheit “is peerless. No one manages to massages more out of a word than Jane.” The singer and her group are on stage at Dazzle, 930 Lincoln, on Thursday at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m. and on Sunday (303-893-5100). Several of the shows are sold out so check out availability as soon as you can.
When singer Rene Marie was at Dazzle not long ago, she sang the praises of another trumpeter. Etienne Charles, who did the horn arrangements on her last two, Grammy-nominated discs. And Charles is in town at Dazzle on Wednesday at 6 and 8 p.m. to close down the musical week with Creole Soul that has Godwin Lewis on saxophone, Brett Williams on piano, Alex Wintz on guitar, Ben Williams on bass and John Davis on drums. Born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad, Charles has his on take on the Afro-Caribbean sound and he does it with a strong band. Bassist Williams, for example, captured the top spot in 2009 Monk Institute bass competition, while saxophonist Lewis finished in the third spot in the Monk Institute’s saxophone competition. Charles and Creole Soul are also at Dazzle on March 16 at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. The 6 p.m. set on Wednesday will be broadcast live on KUVO.
Over at Nocturne, 1330 27th St., guitarist Corey Christiansen is in from Utah on Thursday with a trio that has Jeremy Allen on bass and Matt Jorgensen on drums. Christiansen has played with a number of very familiar names, as well as with his trio. And on one of his discs, Roll with It, he has Pat Bianchi, who spent time in this parts before returning east to make quite a name for himself, on organ (303-295-3333). The guitarist, who plays from 7 p.m. on, is now on the Origin label.
Remember, of course, that Nocturne has live music Tuesday through Saturday with a rotating collection of fine area-based groups. This week, for example, you can find two saxophonists, Keith Oxman and Anisha Rush, performing with their quartets on Friday and Saturday respectively, as well as late-night performances by a new set of players on Friday and Saturday. And at La Cour, 1643 S. Broadway, now drummer Clare Church has a quartet on stage with Pete Lewis on Friday at 7 p.m. (303-777-5000), while singer Hazel Miller kicks up her monthly storm at Caffe Sole, 637 S. Broadway in Boulder, on Thursday at 7 p.m. (303-499-2985)