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It's hard to believe that a scant seven years have passed since a 22-year-old Long Islander named Jane Monheit -- now renowned as one of the world's most beloved and accomplished song stylists -- signed her first recording contract, for Manhattan's relatively small but enthusiastically supportive N-Coded label.
Her debut album, Never Never Land, introduced the world to two indisputable facts. First, as the cover portrait demonstrated, Monheit is a stunning, raven-haired beauty. Second, as the ten standards that filled the impressive disc made immediately obvious, Monheit, with her crystalline voice and buttery phrasing, was (and remains) impossible to pigeonhole, simultaneously suggesting the smarts of a seasoned jazz artist and the cunning storytelling skills of the finest cabaret performers.
Since then, two of her recordings have received Grammy nominations, she has known the sweet satisfaction of chart-topping success (several of her discs have debuted at number one), done her festive duty with a stunning Christmas album (The Season), and found herself moving to Sony for her two most recent albums, 2004's Taking a Chance on Love and the subsequent yuletide disc.
With Surrender -- her seventh album and her first for Concord -- she truly comes into her own, going beyond the promising young vocalist category to emerge at the top of her profession. This album is a superb collection of bossas and ballads, many of which were developed by Jane and her band while on the road. Graced with lush and elegant string arrangements by Jorge Calandrelli and guest appearances by Toots Thielemans, Sergio Mendes (playing piano on his own composition So Many Stars, which he last recorded with Brasil '66), and a new composition and duet with Ivan Lins, Surrender promises to be Jane's crowning achievement to date, and the beginning of a beautiful partnership with Concord.