“Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

(Motema Music)

Guitarist-vocalist Jana Herzen has been on a creative roll. On the heels of a series of collaborative recordings with her husband, bass virtuoso Charnett Moffett, the Motéma Records chief has issued a heartfelt solo version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” A needed balm for trying times, Herzen’s version includes the little-heard introductory verse to the song, which was not included in Judy Garland’s peerless performance in The Wizard of Oz (and which itself nearly ended up on the cutting-room floor). Heavy with emotion, laced with longing for a better world, Herzen’s lullaby-like delivery takes on an added dimension in the bleak and wearying days of COVID, political and cultural division and racial injustice. The singer’s quiet acoustic fingerpicking provides poignant accompaniment and reveals her jazz leanings, as does her vocal phrasing. In addition to releasing music by Herzen and Moffett, Motéma has generated excitement with recordings by the likes of the Jihye Lee Orchestra and Terri Lynne Carrington, and helped raise the profile of artists such as Melissa Aldana, Joey Alexander and Gregory Porter.

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