Lorelei and Dorothy are just "Two Little Girls from Little Rock", lounge singers on a transatlantic cruise, working their way to Paris, and enjoying the company of any eligible men they might meet along the way, even though "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend." Based on the Broadway musical based on the novel.
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.
The choice of repertoire is more or less predictable. There are no lesser known arias, and Gott sei Dank they have been grouped by opera but, within the operas, not in the order of appearance. The ordering of the operas seems haphazard, too. "What an ungrateful nit-picker!" I can hear readers mumble. "Of course they have decided the order to achieve as much variety as possible". But I am not so sure. Why, in that case, start the recital, after the Zauberflöte overture with two arias in a row sung by Russell Braun?