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21/10/2010

EXCLUSIVE: Jazz Singer Jane Monheit Confesses: "I Was a Theatre Nerd"; Birdland Gig Runs to Oct. 23

Jane Monheit, the jazz vocalist who embraces show tunes and American popular song in concert and on albums, is heating up Manhattan's Birdland Oct. 19-23.

Her latest disc, "Home," includes numbers by such Broadway writers as Rodgers & Hart ("There's a Small Hotel"), Irving Berlin ("Isn't It a Lovely Day"), Yip Harburg and Harold Arlen ("The Eagle and Me"), Jerome Kern and B.G. DeSylva ("Look for the Silver Lining") and Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz ("A Shine on Your Shoes"), plus more contemporary songs by Alec Wilder, Larry Goldings and Cliff Goldmacher.

Knowing that Monheit grew up on Long Island, it got us thinking: What's Monheit's relationship to Broadway and musical theatre?

Monheit confesses, "I was the biggest theatre nerd and always will be. I absolutely constantly dream of doing theatre. Even though I mostly sing jazz, my love of musical theatre is an enormous influence on all of my artistic choices."

Did she listen to cast albums when she was a kid?

"I wore out every cast album," she told Playbill.com. "I learned so much of the Great American Songbook from the stage musicals and musical films that the songs originated in. I also listened to the jazz and traditional pop singers' versions, too, most notably Ella Fitzgerald, but it has always been important to me to be familiar with the origins of a song. Even now, whenever we choose to play a tune, we go back to the original sheet music to get the changes. The harmony of these songs has been altered so much by jazz musicians over the years, and — although we do that, too, at times — we like to start at square one, and honor the composer's intention."

Growing up in Bohemia, NY, on Long Island, and studying in Manhattan, Monheit was only a train or car ride away from Broadway.

She explained, "I saw nearly everything on Broadway until I started touring, and saved every Playbill. I miss it horribly. I'm never in town! It would be so hard to name a favorite [show]...certainly Carousel...definitely Into the Woods. I love them all in different ways."

Does she worry that the craft and architecture of American popular song will disappear?

"It's changed, for sure...and that's inevitable," she said. "Great songs will always be written, though, we can be sure of that. People like Larry Goldings, Cliff Goldmacher and Peter Eldridge are writing incredible music that's influenced by the Great American Songbook and everything wonderful that's come since — it's sort of like Volume Two, I suppose."

For more about Monheit's Birdland gig, visit birdlandjazz.com. For more about the albums and work of Monheit, visit janemonheitonline.com.

20/10/2010

NY man convicted in 2009 school hostage standoff

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – A jury has convicted a New York man accused of holding a middle school principal hostage at gunpoint last fall of eight of nine charges, but found him not guilty of the most serious charge of kidnapping.

The Poughkeepsie Journal says Christopher Craft of Standfordville was convicted Tuesday of burglary, weapons possession and other charges.

Authorities say 42-year-old Craft was armed with a shotgun when he held Robert Hess hostage for two hours inside his Pine Plains office Nov. 10 before surrendering.

Hess had testified that Craft was upset over the denial of benefits for his son after the younger man was discharged from the Army.

Craft told a judge he was depressed and needed psychiatric care.

He faces up to 15 years in prison on the burglary and weapons charges alone.

___

Information from: Poughkeepsie Journal,

17/10/2010

AP source: Headley wife spoke to FBI in 2005

WASHINGTON – The wife of a businessman linked to the Mumbai terrorist attacks in India spoke to the FBI about her husband in 2005, three years before the attacks. But a government official said Saturday that the wife of David Headley provided information that was general in nature and the FBI Joint Terrorism Task force found no connections to a specific threat, plot or terrorist group.

The official told The Associated Press that the wife informed the FBI that Headley had expressed to her his support for Pakistan in its bitter dispute with India over Kashmir.

The official, who is familiar with the matter, said the FBI interviews in New York City occurred three years before the 2008 attacks that killed 166 people.

Headley last March pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Chicago to laying the groundwork for the massacre in Mumbai and performing similar surveillance in anticipation of an attack on a Danish newspaper whose cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad were offensive to Muslims.

The independent investigative news organization ProPublica reported on the website of The Washington Post Friday that Headley's wife told federal agents that her husband was an active militant in the terrorist group Lashkar-i-Taiba, which carried out the Mumbai attacks.

The ProPublica story also said that Headley's wife told the federal agents that her husband had trained extensively in the terrorist group's Pakistani camps and had shopped for night-vision goggles and other equipment.

The official told AP that the woman did not say that her husband was an active militant or that he expressed a desire to engage in violent acts. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the Headley case is still an open matter. The FBI declined to comment on Saturday.

The government official said that Headley's wife spoke generally of her husband having hiking supplies, but not that she knew of membership involvement in a group.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has said that the United States regularly provided threat information to Indian officials in 2008, and that had the United States known specifics about the attacks "we would have immediately shared those details with the government of India."

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