In Times Like These
'A great CD, beautifully performed, sensitive arrangements, impeccable choice of material!' - Rex Reed Jane Scheckter hails from Springfield, Mass. And has been singing for years. The New York Times lauded her 'precise positive, pure-toned voice' and Downbeat praised her 'Ella-styled artistry'. This is Jane's third CD, about which Rex Reed has written, 'A great CD, beautifully performed, sensitive arrangements, impeccable choice of material'. Her first album is out of print and her second, 'Double Standards' also is available here on CD Baby. Here's an excerpt from the liner notes for 'In Times Like These' by the noted music critic and author, Will Friedwald. 'I'm the most cynical optimist you'll ever meet,' Jane Scheckter said to me as she was telling me about this album. When she explained the concept, my first response was, 'With a message like that, you should release this record like yesterday. The world needs to hear it as fast as possible.' My second thought was a little less frantic, namely that it would be hard to imagine a time when this particular message wouldn't be appropriate and welcome. Jane's idea was to sing a collection of songs about hope and optimism. Most of these are love songs, naturally, and the recurring theme is about having faith (though not necessarily in a spiritual sort of a way), about taking chances, about putting past mistakes and past hurts beyond you and moving on. Discard those doubts and fears, because whatever happens from here on in, there will be another spring. Not that Jane Scheckter even needs a concept - the beauty and strength of her singing is enough of a concept to carry any album. She has a lovely voice, she has a strong sense of time, and she has enough years of experience to know how to let her own experience come through while at the same time making the song itself first priority. The song 'In Times Like These' serves as both a linchpin and a title, and as it happens, she and I both heard the song courtesy Rex Reed, who sang at a Salute to songwriter Sammy Fain in 1994. We didn't know each other then, but both of us were struck by the loveliness of this obscure Fain-Harburg gem and the timeliness of it's message. What strikes me as the album's strong point is that Jane manages to convey what musicologists would call a 'programmatic' message at the same time making so swingingly musical a package. Further, she does it all with good and great songs that are slightly off the beaten path. I like the program of songs so much that I risk not leaving room to talk about the band, which consists of, in Tony Bennett's phrase, two young pups and two old dogs. Jane was the first to tell me about Tedd Firth a few years ago, raving that this youngster could follow Mike Renzi and Lee Musiker as the next great vocal accompanist (she was right), while Scott Kreitzer has already made a name for himself with Peter Cincotti's quartet. Jay Leonhart and Joe Cocuzzo have both worked for many years with every great singer to pass through New York, especially Bennett (Joe) and Tormé (Jay) and Rosemary Clooney (both). I'll sum up by saying that Jane has more than achieved her goal of 'trying to keep positive without losing my sense of reality.' This album is ground zero for bright tomorrows, and it's songs form a veritable axis of optimism, cockeyed or otherwise.