Saturday, March 26, 2011

Jane Monheit

Nick occasionally takes the time to golf or go to a football game with a friend.  Sometimes he even takes a half day off of work to do it.  And I think to myself: I never do that.  I would never do that.  And then I say that out loud to Nick, as though it's not fair.  So Nick replies, "Then do it."

I finally did it.

I bought myself a concert ticket.  Just one.  I went by myself to see Jane Monheit and Nick stayed home to put the kids to bed and do his homework at the kitchen table.

I had a balcony ticket.  The auditorium at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music is boxy and gilded and ornate.  And the balcony is on the stage.  Practically.  Imagine Gladys Knight performing in a fancy frou-frou dress with an orchestra around her and a gospel choir above and behind her.  Now replace Gladys with Jane Monheit (pictured below), replace the orchestra with a jazz trio, and replace the choir with me.
I had an excellent view of the pianist's face.  If Jane had a bald spot, I would know all about it.  She does not.

In my limited singing, I know what the rules are.  I pronounce sounds as they should be sung.  I hold out the vowels and watch my breathing.  I lift my soft palate and project out of my forehead.

Jane also knows the rules, I am sure, but she breaks them just so.  And it's perfect.  So the rule breaking changes from lazy and uneducated to artful and stunning.

It is common in scatting to vocally imitate an instrument.  Often a saxophone or a horn.  In one song, Jane scatted as a river.  I've never heard of such a thing.  She has this way of doing things with her voice that anyone else would be embarrassed to try, but she tries it and then perfects it and then performs it.

I wish I could tell you how I feel as I listen to live jazz.  I sit on the edge of my seat and stare.  It's like when you're anxiously waiting for something and don't quite know when it will happen, but it's all you can think about.

So sit on the edge of your seat and breathe this.

1 comment:

Rushton's said...

this looked like a lot of fun, jealous! she has a really great sound. I'm going to have to do this same thing soon, just DO it.