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Jonathan Karrant, featuring Jane Monheit and Houston Person - Love Dance
(Virtuoso Music, 2023)
Jonathan Karrant is a song stylist. Jerry Lee Lewis considered himself the same, humbly comparing himself with Al Jolson, Jimmy Rodgers, and Hank Williams. While it is an august group of artists, Karrant is a stylist of a different cut. He would more closely compare with artists like Bobby Short, Ute Lemper, and Frank Sinatra, and the singers' axis formed by Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, and Mel Tormé. If this appears to be a disparate group of singers, it is. Karrant’s talent is unique by having been influenced by all of them, but never to the point where his singular identity bore a shadow other than his.
Karrant emerges from his recent success with Christmas Wish (Virtuoso Music, 2022) with Eclectic (Virtuoso Music, 2023), which will be released this September. The singer primes the market with a taste from the single “Love Dance.” Karrant shares the stage in a duet with Jane Monheit and features Houston Person’s dry and expansive tenor saxophone. Monheit released her own collection of holiday songs in 2022, The Merriest (Club 44 Records), that stood up well with Karrant’s as bookends for the Christmas Season. She is an ideal duet partner with Karrant, both having an easy vocal style and range.
“Love Dance” was composed by Ivan Lins, Gilson Peranzzetta, and Vitor Martins originally as “Lembrança“ in 1981, the song has enjoyed much attention from vocalists and instrumentalists alike. Covered vocally by artists from Shirley Horn to Dianne Schurr and instrumentally from Frank Morgan to Harry Allen. Monheit has already taken a swing at it with Ivan Lins on her Concord recording Surrender (2007). But Kurrant and Monheit together produce a sexy fun alchemy that made this writer blush.
The song is arranged within the small and intimate environment of the piano trio (pianist Patrick Hogan, bassist Nick Schmitt, and drummer Jeremy Klewicki). The rhythm section provides a languid and lazy mood for the principals to bask in the afterglow. Person’s tenor saxophone sets the mood with his dry and sleepy tenor descending to wake Monheit, gently stretching while Karrant quietly reminisces of the previous hours of bliss. Together, the singers create a drama both familiar and nostalgic.
Too much? Think not. This song was meant to be the expression of love, touch, and playful sensuousness, a tactile as much as aural experience. Karrant and Monheit skillfully turn up the temperature, kindled by Person’s tender obbligato to a skillful and satisfying coda. This song is a Sunday morning well spent. This is Romance.