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Monheit brings the magic of Judy Garland to Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild

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Timothy Saccenti
Jazz vocalist Jane Monheit

Jazz standards and show tunes, Judy Garland did them both well, singer Jane Monheit says.

“She was an icon in music, a powerhouse in many ways,” Monheit says. “She was a show singer first, but jazz always appeared in her songs, whatever she was doing.”

That professional admiration is the reason for Monheit’s current tour of Judy Garland songs that she will bring Nov. 22 to the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild on the North Side.

While she points out the jazz influence in Garland’s work, Monheit’s talents will give the show an even-stronger jazz twist.

“Everything in the show is jazz,” she says. “For instance, we will do ‘Johnny One Note,’ but we will do it in a really jazz way.”

Monheit says she, naturally, will do “Over the Rainbow,” but that should be no surprise. “I do that song anyway, whatever show I do,” she says.

Monheit came up with the idea for a Garland show last winter; she’s been touring with it since the spring.

“People have been giving it a wonderful response,” she says. “From Japan to Spain to the Czech Republic, people seem to love her everywhere. She is one of the greatest singers of all time.”

Monheit, 37, grew up in Long Island and attended the Manhattan School of Music. She was a finalist in the 1998 Thelonious Monk Competition. She released her first album in 2000, has been nominated for two Grammy awards and worked with artists such as trumpeter Terence Blanchard and Tom Harrell.

She tours with a trio consisting of her drummer-husband Rick Montalbano, pianist Michael Kanan and bassist Neal Miner.

She is working on putting her next tour package together, based on male performers who have been a big influence. She says that array includes singers Joe Williams and Sammy Davis Jr. and pianist Bill Evans.

But, for now, she is feeling comfortable “touring constantly” with the Garland show.

Monheit admits some listeners will be critical of a focus on Garland music.

“They will say it is too much like cabaret music,” she says. “But I have taken it to jazz clubs, and they like it. Cabaret is part jazz, jazz is part of cabaret. They belong together.”

Bob Karlovits is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected]. or 412-320-7852.

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