Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Jane in Japan

The photo is of real singer Jane Harvey trying her hand, for the first time, at karaoke, with Japansese film and TV  actor Ken Teraizumi. At Again Karaoke Bar in Tokyo.

Here is a translation of the January Swing Journal (Japan) interview with Jane, translated by J. The interview and Jane's maiden karaoke venture took place last November during her visit to Japan to promote two recent Jane Harvey SSJ Records releases.

Jane Harvey (vocalist)

by Nobushige Takai

"I was deeply moved. . . .It was such a wonderful sound. . . I started dancing at the restaurant."

The legendary jazz singer Jane Harvey is releasing I've Been There on SSJ Records in December 2009 after her issue of Stephen Sondheim works, which came out in October 2009 (also from SSJ). The Sondheim CD, by Jane's request, finds the string orchestra of the first [1988] release eliminated; therefore, it is now heard in its original piano trio format. It makes its world premiere in this version in Japan. During her recent visit to this country, she heard the Sondheim album [in its new edition] for the first time.

"I was deeply moved. I was not able to listen to the music on my husband's pc, so we took the CD to the Apple store in the Ginza and listened to it. It was such a wonderful sound. We moved on to a resaurant after that. I started dancing at the restaurant."

The other album, I've Been There, features Ray Ellis as arranger-conductor. On the first day of the recording, Jane recalls, "It was a somewhat troubled session." Nevertheless her singing on this ballads album was eventually received very well. "Just like a saxophonist plays his sax, I sang long lines without taking breaths. It was very difficult."
"When this album was reissued, it was at the same time that Linda Ronstadt's first standards album came out. And Gary Giddins of the Village Voice wrote that my album was even better than Linda's."

The energy of the interview increased as Harvey began to recall her time with Benny Goodman:

"When I was singing at Cafe Society, John Hammond brought Benny Goodman in to hear me. Afterward, without any warning, Goodman said, ""I would like to have you sing with my band. Are you available for rehearsal tomorrow?"" ""Of course,"" I said. I wasn't with the band for a long period of time. One day there was some commotion over whether or not I would sing, "She's [He's] Funny That Way." Another time, when I had throat problems, the band used some other singer instead of me. Nevertheless, despite whatever happened, in my heart, the fact that I was with Benny Goodman is something of which I am very proud."

Harvey recalls that Goodman never demanded anything technically of her singing: "All he ever instructed me to do was," she said, " ""Keep up with the tempo."" I personally like to sing a bit more freely."

After that, she married four times, including Bob Thiele. Even today, she has a youthful and playful way about herself. She remains a fascinating woman. She stopped singing live eight years ago, yet, during this visit to Japan, she had a gig and showed no hint of fading.

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