Long Island native but Northwest Coast expatriate jazz singer Janis Mann has chosen to interpret a set of standards and other familiar songs for her first album for her Pancake label. Possessed with a range that would warm the heart of an operatic diva, Mann places her imprimatur on this set of music, most of which has been recorded many times before by the cream of both male and female jazz singers, but which is refreshed with enthusiasm and intensity by Mann's own vocal analysis of this ear-catching and easy-to-listen-to play list. Showing that she can handle any mood and tempo, she offers a sexily sulky interpretation of "After Hours," with the smoky sax of Floyd Standifer pitching in to create a fitting atmosphere. Shifting gears with poise loaded with savoir-faire, Mann moves to faster-paced material, such as a medium-tempo "September in the Rain" and an even quicker "What a Little Moonlight Can Do." One of the many attractions of this CD is the presence of a band populated by top-flight jazz craftsmen who proliferate this section of the country. In addition to his work on tenor, Standifer shows he is equally at home with the trumpet on both of the aforementioned tunes, and elsewhere Doug Miller gets plenty of solo opportunity to show his lyrical ways on bass, while Randy Halberstadt's piano is the anchor which makes the entire accompaniment strategy work so well. "I Cried Last Night" provides an occasion to demonstrate that Mann can also do a credible job with a blues piece. Co-produced by Diane Schuur, this is a notable first outing for this very adaptable and accomplished vocalist. Recommended.
A Little Moonlight Review
by Dave Nathan