In the Sun

In some circles, it is fashionable to bag on Jane Monheit simply because she is gorgeous. And some jazz purists find fault with Monheit because she strays style-wise from the jazz genre (for instance, she covers country-rock heartbreaker, “Love Has No Pride,” of Linda Ronstadt fame, on her latest CD, In the Sun.) In fact, music critic David Hajdu dismissed her because she practices a kind of jazz nostalgia, because she sings standards, because he views her as a white reincarnation of Ella Fitzgerald (one of Monheit’s heroes). I can think of worse jazz crimes to commit! Detractors aside, this woman can sing. And sing well.

In the Sun (2002; is a pleasing collection of songs performed by the 25-year-old Monheit, accompanied by such heavyweight jazz players as upright bassist Ron Carter and Kenny Washington on drums. The three Brazilian tunes on the CD—"Chega de Saudade” (No More Blues), “Once I Walked in the Sun,” and “Comecar de Novo"—are especially nice. The latter two are written by Monheit’s current musical inspiration, Ivan Lins, who also plays piano and sings on “Once I Walked in the Sun,” my favorite song on the entire album for its relaxed, dreamy beauty, supported so sensuously by Carter’s laid-back Latin bass line.

In the Sun is pretty, like Monheit herself. And that ain’t a bad thing.