Jane Monheit Never Never Land

At 22, jazz vocalist Jane Monheit has, no matter how unlikely, endured the heartbreak and romance that populates the lyrics of great jazz standards. However, backed by a superb ensemble that includes pianist Kenny Barron and bassist Ron Carter, Monheit's debut is assured, intelligent and remarkably soulful. With an obvious reverence towards Ella Fitzgerald, her voice pushes and pulls melodies to unexpected times and slides playfully between inside and outside notes. It's the ballads like "More than You" and "I Got it Bad (And That Ain't Good)" that sound timeless. Complemented by relaxed saxophone playing from Hank Crawford, Monheit has successfully created an album sentimental enough to make great background music. Her honesty and creativity, however, will reward more serious listeners with hours of repeated listening. (N-Coded)