At once crisply assertive and lovingly sensual, vocalist Jane Monheit is the jazz equivalent of the young and charming grade school teacher you secretly nurtured a crush on. A sophisticated bombshell of a performer with a voice that is, like her appearance, voluptuous and flawlessly pretty, Monheit has garnered well-earned comparisons to such icons as Ella Fitzgerald and the goddess of vocal pop, Barbra Streisand. In that sense, her sixth studio album, Surrender, is, at first glance, not dissimilar from her past work. Recorded with her working combo including husband and drummer Rick Montalbano, Surrender is a ballads-heavy album that features a mix of jazz standards, reworked pop tunes, and several bossa nova numbers. What is different is the focus and presentation of Monheit. Rather than featuring her here simply as a singer fronting a jazz band, Surrender is a cinematic showcase, a Broadway-sized coming-out party that finds Monheit's voice framed against sweeping orchestration and glossy, Technicolor arrangements. This is Monheit the vocal diva, the superstar.
Handel’s 1736 opera 'Atalanta' concluded with a spectacular display of fireworks in its first year of performance; it has only recently been revived for the first time since the 18th century. The fireworks on this live Philharmonia Baroque recording from 2005 are of the vocal variety. The San Francisco Chronicle raved: “Magnificent… the most vibrant, exhilarating stretch of musical showmanship this organization has offered in many a long season.