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Bobby Reed
January 2021

The latest release by singer Janis Mann and pianist Kenny Werner, Dreams Of Flying, combines studio sessions and live performances, recorded three years apart, on opposite U.S. coasts, with different supporting musicians. On paper, that hardly sounds like a recipe for a cohesive program. And yet, thanks to the simpatico rapport by these two veteran musicians, the result is a marvelously congruous 63-minute album.


The duo teamed up with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca for a 2016 session at Samurai Hotel recording studio in Queens, and in 2019, the co-leaders presented a set of duo and trio songs (with guitarist Larry Koonse) in front of a quiet audience at the Capitol Studios building in Hollywood. Every track in the program sparkles, whether the quartet is coaxing emotion out of Stevie Wonder’s 1985 hit “Overjoyed” or Mann is demonstrating her impressive vocal command on an adventurous, eight-minute trio reading of Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes.”


Mann and Werner—who collaborated on a 2013 disc, Celestial Anomaly—once again prove that the success of a jazz-meets-cabaret endeavor relies not only on strong melodies, but also on sculpting arrangements that showcase the players’ individual strengths.


The quartet version of Paul Simon’s dark ballad “I Do It For Your Love” features rich, low-end coloration, courtesy of Gress’ haunting bass. When the quartet recorded Simon’s “American Tune,” little did they know they were creating an apropos lament for the pandemic era. “I don’t know a soul who’s not been battered/ Don’t have a friend who feels at ease,” Mann sings, later adding, “When I think of the road we’re traveling on/ I wonder what went wrong/ I can’t help it, I wonder what went wrong/ And I dreamed I was dying.”


Mann and Werner are also fond of the tunesmith Jimmy Webb, represented here by “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” and “Wichita Lineman.” On the latter interpretation, Werner crafts two intertwined, mesmerizing harmonic dialogues: one with Mann’s vocal line and one with the song’s familiar melody.


The composers of these 11 tracks are all famous, but Mann and Werner make many astute choices, often choosing a lesser-known composition in the tunesmith’s songbook, such as Joni Mitchell’s “Edith And The Kingpin.” Heartache is a motif in the program, as Mann digs into Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s tear-jerking lyrics for a tune penned by Johnny Mandel, “Where Do You Start,” one of the most gut-wrenching break-up songs of all time. Werner’s commentary, weaving between the verses and underneath Mann’s assured vocals, is a master class on accenting the meaning of a lyric.


Dreams Of Flying, Mann’s eighth album, is an overlooked gem of 2020, and a great demonstration of her willingness to explore profound emotional depths.

R.J. DeLuke in All About Jazz
March 5 2021
Janis Mann: Authentic And In The Moment

"At the very top of the list of the whole definition of being an artist is authenticity and integrity."

...Mann is very ready to stand before people and share her art, singing in the fashion she prefers: completely in the moment. The way she tells her musical stories and even the way she speaks come out through her here-and-now sensibility. She is direct and honest, and also emotional, empathetic, and humorous. Emotion can spring up suddenly like a chord change.

"I just love the idea of getting my music out there and having people enjoy what it is that I love. That's a beautiful thing," she says...

Dan Bilawsky in All About Jazz
March 11, 2021

Janis Mann & Kenny Werner: Dreams of Flying

Janis Mann has quietly but steadily amassed an impressive body of work over the course of more than two decades. For this, the vocalist's eighth album, she brings studio and stage into beautiful alignment with different, intimate configurations hinging on the constant presence of pianist Kenny Werner...

Mann's selection of repertoire is just as important as her measured yet creative approach. Largely avoiding Broadway-turned-jazz fare and heavily covered classics in favor of latter-day (new) jazz standards drawn from singer-songwriters, she puts her indelible imprint on the work of everybody from Jimmy Webb to Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell to Sandy Denny.


"Celestial Anomaly" Review:
"Astronomically speaking, the title refers to an apsis, the farthest point between two bodies in elliptical orbit, which seems an odd insinuation. If the two bodies are Mann and Werner, then their union couldn’t be closer—a masterful fusion of musical minds. And though Werner’s playing is expectedly brilliant, the entire ensemble, whether anchored by McCurdy or LaBarbera, is tight and interdependent.

Mann is often likened to Sarah Vaughan, and certainly shares Sassy’s dark, rich texture and her versatility. But Mann adds an enticing air of mystery, a dusky hint of veiled possibilities. She is not only one of the most skilled vocalists around, but one of the most alluring as well."

Christopher Loudon in "JazzTimes" Magazine
March 2014 edition
Dave Nathan in "All Music Guide"

" of the most authentic and pure jazz voices working today."

Mark Thompson in "Edge New York"
June 30, 2012

Janis Mann with Kenny Werner weekend at the Kitano, NYC:
"A recent Saturday evening featured a spellbinding set by the Janis Mann Quartet. The extremely soulful Mann offered a series of classic standards that included a bravura rendition of Abbey Lincoln’s 'Throw It Away.' Mann’s performance of 'You Taught My Heart to Sing' brilliantly summoned Dianne Reeves, even while making the McCoy Tyner song her own.

The evening’s climax, however, might well have been Mann’s definitive version of Henry Mancini’s 'Slow Hot Wind.' This often-overlooked gem was given new meaning by Mann, evoking not only Sarah Vaughan (whose version was said to be Mancini’s favorite) but also the sultry and smoky tones of June Christy."

Nate Chinen in New York Times
June 14, 2012

"A jazz singer with an easygoing but sure-footed style..."

Don Heckman in "International Review of Music"
June 28, 2011 & Dec. 30, 2010

"Singer Mann’s rich-toned voice and intimate way with a song affirm her status as one of the Southland’s finest jazz vocal artists."

"Mann’s deep, dark-toned voice and far-ranging musical ideas bring new life to everything she sings."

Alan Bargebuhr in "Cadence Magazine"
July 2009 edition

"Janis Mann continues to generate some of the best vocal music anywhere."

Roger Crane in "L.A. Jazz Scene"
June 28, 2011 & Nov. 22, 2010

"To have a sound and style that are unmistakably your own is a prerequisite of greatness in jazz and Mann possesses a uniqueness that sets her apart. She is the complete jazz singer and, thankfully, one who cares about text and makes lyrics believable."

"Celestial Anomaly" Review:
This recording is nowhere near being a conventional vocal album featuring a singer with accompaniment. Rather, Mann most often figures as the fourth performer in a full-fledged quartet, although she usually stays close to the melody and does not scat. Instead, her warm alto voice imbues each of these choice songs with cool but concentrated emotion in a manner that meshes nicely with the simultaneous work of the trio. That she has excellent control is made especially clear by her facile negotiation of the difficult melodic intervals of "You Must Believe in Spring" while Werner and Price play unconventional lines and harmonies behind her.
-- David Franklin
Cadence Magazine - July 2014 edition

Concert Preview:
While Werner is in the Bay Area, he's also playing a Feb. 23 house concert in San Francisco at Chez Hanny with the brilliant but underexposed Los Angeles jazz singer Janis Mann, with whom he collaborated on a stellar 2013 album "Celestial Anomaly." Werner hails Mann as a true improviser and likened the recording experience to the session of spontaneously generated songs he created with extraordinary Bay Area vocalist Claudia Villela on the 2004 album "Dreamtales" (Adventure Music).
-- Andrew Gilbert
San Jose Mercury News

Janis Mann and Kenny Werner / Celestial Anomaly CD Release Concert for the Jazz Bakery at Barnsdall Theatre:
Much of the material was super challenging.  I salute your choices, your bravery and your interpretation. Right on!
-- Ruth Price
The Jazz Bakery

Team vocalist Janis Mann and pianist Kenny Werner together and it's assured that the outcome will be anything but safe and conventional. The two adventurous souls recently recorded Celestial Anomaly together and performed songs from it at the Barnsdall Theatre as part of the Jazz Bakery's "Moveable Feast" series. Joining Mann and Werner (2010 Guggenheim Fellowship winner and current Artist-in-Residence at New York University) were Hamilton Price on bass and Roy McCurdy on drums, who are also on the recording. Abbey Lincoln's modern classic "Throw It Away" was done mystically without bass, instead with piano and hand drumming alternating to support superb singing. Not on the CD was Joni Mitchell's "Edith and the Kingpin" which was full of zesty piano and trio playing, along with Mann singing strongly. She took a break afterwards to feature Werner spryly stretching out with the trio for a standard. Upon her return the principles rendered "If I Loved You" as a gorgeous duet, featuring them both at the top of their craft. For a changeup, Sting's "Fragile" was given a an appealing samba treatment. Interestingly, the show closed with "You Must Believe in Spring" done as a sumptuous ballad, abounding with gentle piano and beautiful singing to garner a standing ovation.
-- Chris Walker
L.A. Jazz Scene - Dec. 2013

Celestial Anomaly; Janis Mann, vocals; featuring Kenny Werner, piano.
Janis Mann stays the course, refusing to succumb to the ordinary. This time she makes a significant jazz statement by adding the very inventive pianist Kenny Werner to the mix. Also on board are Hamilton Price, bass; and drum chores split between Roy McCurdy and Joe La Barbera. The opener is none other than Thelonious Monk's “Ugly Beauty” all dressed up in new attire as “Still We Dream”. Janis has always made great song choices and she does so here with the likes of “Wild Is The Wind”, “You Must Believe In Spring”, “Early Autumn”, “So In Love”, “Once I Loved”, “If I Loved You” and “I'll Be Seeing You”. Perhaps the surprise of the set was “With A Song In My Heart”, a tune often played but rarely sung. There are some very creative things going on between Mann and Werner, certainly beyond the ordinary. And with Janis, well, there's no shtick, no frosting on this cake. Janis Mann simply pours it out, puts it over, and does so with the “you can't teach that” sensibility of a true jazz singer.
-- George Fendel
Jazz Society of Oregon

Janis Mann, who has one of the finest voices of any singer in Southern California, also has an adventurous spirit. She performed at Barnsdall Park at its beautiful theater off of Hollywood Blvd. The concert was sponsored by Ruth Price and the Jazz Bakery, matching her with the great pianist Kenny Werner, bassist Hamilton Price and drummer Roy McCurdy. Werner rarely works with singers and very few vocalists are confident enough in their singing to be able to hold their own with his harmonically advanced and very original chord voicings. However Janis Mann did quite well on such eclectic songs as “Beautiful Love,” Elton John’s ”Come Down In Time,” Thelonious Monk’s “Ugly Beauty,” Abbey Lincoln’s “Throw It Away,” “Wild As the Wind,” a doubletime “Early Autumn,” Sting’s “Fragile,” a sensitive “You Must Believe In Spring” and a duet rendition of “If I Loved You.” The ballad-oriented set was often exquisite. The recent Janis Mann/Kenny Werner recording Celestial Anomaly, which features some of the same songs, is well worth acquiring.
-- Scott Yanow
L.A. Jazz Scene - Oct. 2013

Janis Mann with Kenny Werner. Sold-out concert at the A-Frame:
"Very fine concert at cool series yesterday. Wow. Sometimes the group got close to a kind of telepathy"
-- Scott Timberg
L.A. Times writer
The Misread City - Aug. 13, 2012

Blow Away review:
"This is yet another superior release from West Coast songstress Janis is Janis Mann’s straight ahead vocal skills and improvisational subtlety that set this session apart. This is one of this year’s—or any year’s—top vocal Jazz CDs.."
-- Alan Bargebuhr
Cadence Magazine - Winter 2011

"One of the very best jazz singers in Southern California, Janis Mann has a deep voice, a strong sense of humor, and a wide range....Always a solid swinger and one who makes every note count, she is a joy to see live. Her recordings are always excellent and 'Blow Away' is no exception."
-- Scott Yanow
L.A. Jazz Scene- Oct. 2010

"Mann’s latest album, Blow Away, is a compelling display of classic standards sung in richly atmospheric interpretations."
-- Don Heckman
The International Review of Music, Dec. 30, 2010

"Mann is thoroughly a jazz singer, and a very good one. Throughout this classic date with her outstanding trio, she lays it all on the line, communicating from the heart."
-- George Fendel
Jazz Society of Oregon Jazz Scene- Sept. 2010


"Mann is a reverent, sensitive interpreter of lyrics. For an evening in front of a warm fire, when talk is not necessary, this CD will fit nicely."
-- Myrna Daniels
L.A. Jazz Scene- Oct. 2010

"Mann... is owner and operator of a splendid instrument that owes as much to June Christy as it does to Sarah Vaughan. She possesses the unique ability to be simultaneously cool and sultry, to seem as crystalline as Baccarat's finest yet smoky as a Dietrich film festival, and to suggest that she's just stepped out of the 1950s while sounding utterly contemporary. "
-- Christopher Loudon
Jazztimes Magazine


"Janis Mann’s phrasing is meticulous, and she puts across a lyric in a way that most other singers could only aspire to. This lady’s a keeper. "
-- George Fendel
Jazz Society of Oregon


"...musically adventurous and lyrically evocative..."
-- Don Heckman
The International Review of Music

"Janis Mann's jazz performances are deliciously just right."
-- Kirk Silsbee
Los Angeles CITY BEAT


"...a one-of-a-kind vocalist..."
-- Harvey Barkan
L. A. Jazz Scene
The American Rag


"Paying close attention to dynamics, using space creatively and varying the moods, Janis Mann shows that she is a first class jazz singer."
-- Scott Yanow
Jazz Around Town - L.A. Jazz Scene
(Janis Mann is included in Scott Yanow's book "The
Jazz Singers - The Ultimate Guide"

"Great singer. Great feel. I haven't heard anyone like Janis Mann in years."
-- Roy Haynes
Legendary jazz drummer

(Janis most recently performed with The Roy Haynes
Quartet at Catalina's, Hollywood April 2006)

"Vocalist Janis Mann got called out of the crowd by Roy Haynes recently. He'd been joking about eternal sleep, and asked her to start singing -- 'Something funereal. You know, a dirge' -- and he tapped away somberly, the band trailing in. She began some kind of gorgeous, chthonic improv that stunned the room. That was some singing."
-- Brick Wahl
L. A. Weekly

"There's nothing middle-of-the-road about Mann; she's one of those rare vocalists - in any genre - whose every
note has absolute conviction."
-- Kirk Silsbee
Jazz Critic's Choice - Los Angeles CITY BEAT

"Janis Mann deserves to be much better known. Teamed at Catalina's with pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist Chuck Berghofer, and drummer Paul Kreibich, Ms. Mann proved to be a swinging improviser ... she sometimes showed the influence of Ella Fitzgerald but mostly sang in her own warm style."
-- Scott Yanow
Jazz Around Town - L.A. Jazz Scene

"This exceptional jazz vocalist has been making waves with her recent performances. Good stuff!"
-- Brick Wahl
L. A. Weekly

"Her scatting is not simply a disposable show of technique. It is unhistrionic and true as an oboe..."
-- Roger Crane
L.A. Jazz Scene


"An accomplished performer, Janis 'wows' all who hear her."
-- Lynn Sirrine
Jazz Society of Oregon

"...a singer who understands and delivers the meaning and the music of a song. She buries deep in the emotional folds of the songs she sings and emerges with meaning and understanding that she shares with us."
-- John Clayton
Jazz bassist/composer/arranger

"Mann's rich, earthy alto and satiny style (with lipstick traces) cuts straight to the emotional core...her intonation, phrasing and time are unimpeachable, as well."
-- Paul de Barros
Seattle Times

"'Let It Happen' is a great CD. Janis has selected some wonderful tunes and sings them the way they should be sung."
-- Houston Person
Legendary jazz tenor saxophonist

"Janis Mann is a world class singer, five stars, all the way."
-- Maximillien de Lafayette
New York Monthly Herald
The Globe Weekly News, London

"Her voice is exquisite, powerful, yet tenderly rich in emotions.The CD ["Let It Happen"] is a bouquet of well selected tunes distinguished by an aromatic vocal charm and utmost professionalism."
-- Peggy North
International Herald Daily News, London

"The music is balanced and relaxing. The arrangements are right on. Janis Mann's voice is fabulous...'Let it Happen' could become a classic."
-- Nigel Huntington
International News Agency

"Janis Mann. What a singer! Pure gold!"
-- Erica Soderholm
Cabaretville Magazine

"Janis is a wonderful vocalist and a star in her own right."
-- Diane Schuur
Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist

Janis Mann named "Jazz Vocalist of the Year" for 2004
by Earshot Jazz at the "Golden Ear Awards 2005."

Review of "Let It Happen":
" could point to each and every track as a highlight, so consistent is the music throughout."
-- Alan Bargebuhr
Cadence Magazine


Review of "So Many Stars - A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan":
"This is the Vaughan tribute you must hear, for its depth of evocation and its power to redeemsome of the loss we suffered at the passing of a singer whose like we shall never hear at arm's length again. Janis Mann comes close, however.....very very close."
-- Alan Bargebuhr
Cadence Magazine


Lost in His Arms
-- Best of the Northwest 1999

"Janis has great stage presence, a flexible and powerful voice, and great arrangements, and her 1999 CD is one of the best of the year."
So Many Stars -- A Tribute to Sarah Vaughan
-- Best of the Northwest 2000

"Not many singers have the range and vocal equipment to do justice to a Sarah Vaughan tribute, but Janis Mann is more than credible - not as a mere imitator, but as someone who has absorbed the spirit of a Sarah Vaughan performance."
-- Jim Wilke
Jazz Northwest/KPLU-FM
Jazz After Hours/PRI

"One of our best jazz singers, Mann delivers standards with sass, brass, and class."
-- Christopher DeLaurenti
The Stranger

"Janis Mann is a winning, high-spirited jazz singer in the swinging manner of Ella Fitzgerald..."
"Taking on the Vaughan repertoire is a daunting task. But Janis Mann, a Brooklyn-born vocalist, has no trouble evoking Sassy's signature qualities, including her hooting, cello-like lows, sudden changes in dynamics, swooping caresses of a single note, and, of course, her characteristically wide vibrato. But beyond technique, it is the sense of drama - and heart - Vaughan brought to each song that Janis manages to put over."
-- Paul de Barros
Seattle Times, Downbeat, and author of "Jackson
Street After Hours: The Roots of Jazz in Seattle"

"Janis Mann may be the Grand Dame of Northwest jazz singers, her operatic voice is capable of singing Puccini or swinging Porter, and her tight, focused vibrato is reminiscent of an era when jazz and opera singers were close cousins. So it fits that Janis, on "So Many Stars", pays tribute to another jazz vocalist known for her
operatic proclivities, namely Sarah Vaughan. Casting one's self in the shadow of a jazz legend is a daunting
prospect for anyone. Yet Janis acquits herself admirably, and for an admirable cause (all proceeds going to the Swedish Hospital Breast Care Center). She exhibits exceptional range and vocal control on well-worn standards 'Just Friends' and 'Embraceable You.' 'Black Coffee' finds her getting down and bluesy. Sugary, Cafe Society selections include 'Send in the Clowns,' 'It Never Entered My Mind' and the title track 'So Many Stars.'"
-- Jason West

A Little Moonlight:
"Janis Mann's first release is a heartfelt interpretation of well-loved standards...Janis has chosen a variety of musical styles ranging from ballads to swing to Brazilian and rendered a tasty presentation of them."
-- Diane Schuur
Grammy award-winning jazz vocalist

"Janis Mann...ahhh...the real thing!"
-- Don Lanphere
Legendary jazz saxophonist and recording artist

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