Janelle Monique You Go to My Head

The smooth vocal presence behind Toronto dance floor Latin jazz and groove acts Plan C and Methodology (and formerly of disco funk soul freaks King Sunshine), Janelle Monique (and her pipes) deserve a chance to sail under her own steam. So why did she make her solo debut a record comprised of covers? Monique does do her jazz diva thing well, however, and this is a confident, honey-voiced solo effort in sultry Spanish, Portuguese and English tones, no less. A powerfully arranged rendition of Thelonius Monk’s "’Round Midnight” earns top points here and Kansas’s "Dust in the Wind” (seriously) gets a curious touch of jazz funk-lite. Several of the stronger tracks include saxophonist/composer Oliver Miguel, Monique’s main collaborator on the project. Samba/Latin jazz standards — classics like Jobim’s "Garota de Ipanema,” "Besame Mucho” and "A Felicidade,” a chestnut from the ’50s Black Orpheus soundtrack — stay listenable with Monique’s peppy, soulful delivery. (ZaFéMuzik)