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Shawnn Monteiro comes to PAAM
By Cheryl Kain
Friday, July 28, 2006 - Updated: 09:21 AM EST

"Shawnn Monteiro is one of music’s most underappreciated vocalists," says The Hartford Courant, and audiences will have the rare treat of hearing her perform at the Dick Miller jazz Series at Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAAM) this Wednesday.
    Monteiro’s resume reads like the ultimate "Who’s Who of Jazz." She counts her musical heroes as Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan. "I feel like I was born 30 years too early," she laughs. She also draws inspiration from her own genes - Monteiro’s father was the late renowned bassist Jimmy Woode, veteran of the Duke Ellington band. "My dad left me a lot of charts," says Monteiro. Her godfather is flugelhorn and trumpet player Clark Terry, best known for his work with Bessie Smith and Duke Ellington. Terry appeared regularly on the Tonight Show, where his unique "mumbling" scat singing became famous.
    Monteiro has shared the stage with the most prestigious names in jazz -- Spyro Gyra, Clark Terry, Ray Brown, Lionel Hampton, Kenny Barron, The Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Keter Betts, Jimmy Cobb (of Miles Davis fame), and Stanley Jordan, to name just a few. Monteiro’s inimitable voice, with its rich, warm timbre, is one of those instruments that come along once in a lifetime. Ask anyone - from the super-picky Jazz Times Magazine to the local Providence Journal-Bulletin - and you’ll hear phrases like "remarkable", "demanding riveted attention" and "pulling all the sweetness or sorrow, joy or sassiness that can be had ..."
    While you may be fortunate enough to catch Monteiro at Neath’s in Providence; Atlantic Beach Club or Sardella’s in Newport, she tours Europe as a jazz superstar most of the year with her rendition of The American Songbook. In Europe, all the Jazz Festivals are free, as the government actively sponsors the arts; Monteiro has to play where they pay, which unfortunately doesn’t give her as much time at home as she might like. Monteiro plays the Eurojazz Festival, Milan Jazzfest, JVC Jazz Festival; also festivals in Genova, Naples, Umbria and Ronsiglione; as well as in Dubai, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Croatia, and Russia. In the States, Shawnn’s voice is well known at renowned Village Vanguard, The Rainbow Room and The Blue Note in New York, Scullers and Berklee Performing Arts Center in Boston, The Hilton and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, as well as Newport Jazz Festival, Hartford and others.
    In America, rigid ideas of youth and beauty, which hold true for young pop music princesses, are slowly seeping into the Jazz marketplace as well. "Everyone thinks they need to look like (vocalists) Diana Krall or Jane Monheit," laughs Monteiro. "The great thing is, as far as my level, it doesn’t know any age," she adds. Indeed, Monteiro has her own look and her own sound, which you’ll want to experience for yourself. Rumor has it that her stage presence is dynamic, commanding and mesmerizing, and this jazz singer doesn’t keep this gold mine all to herself - she shares her gifts in many other ways as well.
    Monteiro teaches Jazz Vocals at Rhode Island College in Providence, where she is ongoing Artist-in-Residence, and leads a Master Vocal Class in Rome and Genova, Italy every summer (see www.ronciglionejazz.it). Besides being one of the best vocalists and stylists around today, Monteiro is also a wife and mother, and she and her husband call Providence home.
    If you ask a hip-hop youth today who Count Basie was, they don’t have an answer. "Jazz is the American art form, yet America does not support it as well as it could," says Monteiro. "Young people don’t have opportunities to go sit in and develop their instrument," she adds. Monteiro recently purchased a trombone for her grandson - if she hadn’t, the school wouldn’t have been able to afford to teach him. These days, Monteiro’s godfather and longtime collaborator Terry Clark is still a music educator at the age of 86 -- he travels the country teaching young people. "He’s my inspiration!" exclaims Monteiro. Years ago, Monteiro went around with Jodi Klinger with the Cape Cod Jazz Society to offer one-hour jazz programs to Cape Cod schools, from kindergarten on up. "For the little ones, we’d play the theme from The Flintstones, just jazzed up a bit!"
    Monteiro began her career back in San Francisco, where she played five nights a week in a club, for over $100 a night. There just aren’t yet enough jazz clubs around New England to support young, emerging talent. The clubs that do offer jazz tend to promote the image-friendly singers such as Tierney Sutton, Diana Krall and Jane Monheit. And to many a singer, jazz can still have a "boy’s club" mentality. A "chick singer" must earn her respect from the purist instrumentalists. In fact, at Monteiro’s Master Class in Italy, one day is focused entirely on how to command respect from your players.
    At the PAAM show, Monteiro will be joined by her longtime pianist, John Harrison. "I’ve been working with him for about 25 years now. He wrote 95 percent of my book! I can do a lot with John that I can’t do with other piano players." Also with Monteiro will be the talented Laird Boles and Bart Weisman, on bass and drums respectively.
    Monteiro is in the planning stages for her next album, due in the fall. When asked what Monteiro’s future might hold, she had this to say: "I’d love to be more known in my own home country. My record label is in Italy, but I make sure DJs here get my CDs. For my next album, I’ll shop for an American record label."
    Monteiro is always pleased to perform around her New England home, and is excited about singing in the beautiful new space at PAAM. "You may see me on BET (Black Entertainment Television) one day and at Sculler’s or Blues Alley (or PAAM) the next day."
     If you go:

     Who:Shawnn Monteiro, performing as part of the Dick Miller jazz Series.
     Where:Provincetown Art Association & Museum, 460 Commercial St., Provincetown.
     When:Wednesday (Aug. 2) at 6 p.m.
     Information:508-487-1750 or visit www.paam.org.

Jazz vocalist Shawnn Monteiro comes to Provincetown this Wednesday.
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