Jana Herzen Live
“With an Open Heart”
Singer-songwriter and Motéma label chief Jana Herzen leads a five-piece band on an album she recorded at Joe’s Pub in New York City in October 2019. With her husband, Charnett Moffett, on bass; Brian Jackson on piano and keyboards; Irwin Hall on saxophone and flute; and Corey Garcia on drums, Jana Herzen Live (Motéma) offers a collection of Herzen’s jazzy, Caribbean-influenced pop songs driven by her accomplished lead and rhythm guitar. These were no random selections, but rather a preview of the music from her January 2020 studio release, Nothing but Love. Herzen points out that the studio album featured violinist Scott Tixier and drummer Mark Whitfield Jr., and carried more of an Americana vibe, while the live album contains more of a swing feel and features a greater degree of improvisation. As with several of her tunes, “With an Open Heart” moves to a gentle Caribbean groove also reflected in Herzen’s playful vocals. Her rhythmic strum is bolstered by Moffett’s ever-melodic fretless electric bass lines and punctuated by Jackson’s sunny piano and Hall’s ebullient soprano sax. Performed before the COVID lockdown, the show at Joe’s Pub was intended as a teaser to the studio album, which was released just as the world was becoming aware of the coronavirus and responding accordingly.