Vocalist Jane Monheit and violinist Aaron Weinstein, two stupendous jazz stars, along with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra combined for an unsurpassed evening of music Saturday, Oct. 27 for a Printing Partners Pop Series concert at the Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis.
The concert began with Principal Pops conductor Jack Everly greeting the audience by exclaiming “We’re back!” His remark could have been a reference to this first Pops Series concert of the season, but it is more likely that he was speaking of the ISO musicians’ recent return to the Hilbert stage after a five-week labor dispute which saw them locked out. Following a standing ovation by the audience, the orchestra played Dmitri Shostakovich’s very appropriate “Festive Overture,” followed by Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things.”
27-year-old Weinstein, who is red hot amongst jazz enthusiasts and touted as one of the finest violinists of his generation, was then introduced. Accompanied by the ISO, he played Irving Berlin’s “Cheek to Cheek.” Displaying a wry sense of humor, Weinstein made witty remarks about George Gershwin before launching into a medley of two of the composer’s songs. Giving a performance that showed his distinctive musicality, he played “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Somebody Loves Me” with the orchestra.
As musicality goes, Monheit proved that she is a one-of-a-kind, true original. Accompanied by her band, consisting of Michael Kanan on piano, Neal Miner on bass and Rick Montalbano (who is also Monheit’s husband) on drums, Monheit’s ISO Pops appearance marked her most recent in Indianapolis since she played at the Cabaret at the Columbia Club in September 2010.
Featured during the second half of the concert, Monheit, whose supple voice is notable for its pristinely pure tone and the richness of its texture, sang a program of selections drawn from several of her 10 albums. Though she says that she doesn’t do it very often, Monheit told the audience that she loves to sing with orchestras because it allows her to perform many of the exquisite arrangements that were heard during her set.
Monheit is a consummate torch singer who feels deeply when she sings ballads. Conveying a heartfelt sincerity in the way she phrased her lyrics, she genuinely connected with the audience. Often grabbing her forehead and parting her hair, she used her hands frequently to express passion, which she projected with sultry sensuality. Favorite selections performed by this chanteuse extraordinaire included “Over the Rainbow,” the Portuguese language “Comecar de Novo,” “Pure Imagination,” “Moon River,” and Judy Collins’ haunting “Since You’ve Asked.”
Monheit can definitely swing and she can scat too, as demonstrated in her interpretations of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust” and “Twisted” by Ross and Grey, which featured fine solos from members of her top-notch band and Weinstein who returned to join her.
For tickets and information about upcoming Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra 2012-2013 season concerts call (317) 639-4300 or visit www.indianapolissymphonyorchestra.org.
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