March 2009

You Go to My Head
Janelle Monique You Go to My Head CD Release
April 2, 2009 Lula Lounge Toronto
Report by Joyce Corbett with photo by Roger Humbert
Happily, Janelle Monique’s CD release party Part Two ran from start to surprise finale without a hitch. The originally scheduled release (or Part One) was halted before it got off the ground. Halfway through the first song, “La Garota de Ipanema”, the lights went out. Janelle addressed the audience with a megaphone and, performer that she is, made a valiant attempt to continue the show, strolling around the candlelit room singing with vocalist Kamil André, pianist Sean Bellaviti and guitarist Jacek Karlowski. But, the power did not come back on and the club was forced to close for the night. In some pockets of the city the electricity would be off for twenty-four hours.
Max Senitt y sus Amigos opened the release Part Two as they had the first with a set of instrumentals. Sean Bellaviti on piano and Juan Carlos Medrano on congas joined the band for Janelle who arrived on stage with her megaphone. “I hope I don’t have to use it tonight”, she said. This time around, she sang “La Garota de Ipanema” from the stage, all the way through.

Janelle Monique’s first CD, You Go to My Head, was quietly released over a year ago, though never really “launched”. Stand-outs on this evening from the CD were her samba-based version of “Dust in the Wind”, one of the best versions of that song I have ever heard, and her sensitive rendition of Sting’s “How Fragile We Are”.

Overall though, it was her new material that really stood out for me, Janelle Monique originals such as “Sorti Sorti”, and “A Nou Alé” in Creole; “Tiempo Simple” and “Sin Hielo” in Spanish. Janelle Monique told us that her mother, grandmother and aunt helped her with “A Nou Alé”. It featured some beautiful harmonies with three back-up vocalists, Kamil André, Maya Chilton and Joni NehRita. “Sin Hielo” was a strong Latin jazz piece she wrote the day she returned from the Havana Jazz Festival where she performed this year.

Janelle Monique
The petite Janelle Monique danced, smiled, sang and scatted her way through a wide range of rhythms, languages and moods with seemingly boundless energy and ease. Her brother Kamil André also impressed with his great scatting on "Don't Ask Me (I'm Only Here For A Good Time)", trading riffs with saxophonist Mike Wark. “Wrong Turn” was a fun song that, in addition to showing off Janelle’s crystal clean voice to full advantage, incorporated some beautiful harmonizing with Kamil.

At the end of the evening, after Janelle had left the stage and we thought the show was over, Caribana arrived in the form of costumed dancers, including Janelle Monique herself!

The musicians
Vocalist: Janelle Monique
Max Senitt Y Sus Amigos
Max Senitt (drums), Jacek Karlowski (guitar), Dustin Shaskin (bass), Mike Wark (sax).
Also featuring
Sean Bellaviti (keyboard), Juan Carlos Medrano (percussion)
Kamil André (voice), Maya Chilton (voice), Joni NehRita (voice)


We welcome your comments and feedback
Joyce Corbett
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Roger Humbert
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The Live Music Report

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