“The lady has a gutsy voice that can belt out a blues or whisper a love song.”
—William Ruhlmann, The Online Guide To All Music
“Antoinette Montague is a Jazz singer who loves people and thrills audiences with her crystal-clear tone, her range and her emotional intensity.”
—The Portland Observer
Journal of the New Jersey Jazz Society, January 2010
One of the joys of reviewing new CDs is putting a disc into my player, and almost immediately saying to myself “this is one that is going to be a fun listening experience and a pleasure to review.” Such was the case with Behind the Smile (In the Grove) by vocalist ANTOINETTE MONTAGUE. Her voice just draws you in, and her phrasing rhythm and musicality keep you engaged. There are 13 tracks, and each one is a winner. The title tune serves as an indication that this talented lady is not just another singer, for she has composed both words and music, and arranged the music, as she did for the other selections. She draws her material from a variety of sources, and avoids, packing her program with songs, that you have heard countless times before. The only tunes that would fit into the standards category are “I Hadn’t Anyone Till You” and “The Song is You.” Montague makes most of what she performs sound so good that you wonder where the tunes have been hiding. Prime examples of this are “I’d Rather Have a Memory Than a Dream,” once almost the private property of Sarah Vaughan, “Lost in Meditation,” a rarely heard treasure from the world of Ellingtonia, “Summer Song,” a lovely piece by Dave and Lola Brubeck, and “Somewhere in the Night,” a Billy May/Milton Raskin gem. She has taken two Motown classics, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On,” and Smokey Robinson’s “Get Ready,” and placed them effectively in a jazz context. Speaking of the jazz context, the players backing her are the dream team of Bill Easley on tenor sax and flute, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Kenny Washington on drums. This is simply one of the best vocal albums of the year.
© 2017 Antoinette Montague