By Anthony J. Machcinski
Home is where the heart is, especially for Jane Stuart, Nutley’s resident jazz star, who played at the Nutley Public Library on Saturday.
“I love it,” said Stuart about performing in Nutley. “I love having the opportunity to sing for some of the seniors hear in town. This is an opportunity to come and here me and hear some songs that they maybe don’t get to hear very often.”
Stuart, who has lived in Nutley for the past 15 years, got her start at the age of five, when she sang on a New York City TV show, “Moser Starlites.” From an early age, Stuart knew that performing was something that she wanted to do.
“I remember as a little kid, I was about seven years old, I thought to myself, ‘I could do this,’” Stuart said.
Stuart said her love of performing came from her experience at the Charlie Lowe’s School of Tap and Personality in New York City, where she studied alongside Christopher Walken, Alan Paul, and David Winters.
“That’s where I got the bug and realized that I could do this,” Stuart said. “I was totally there. To take a quote from Lady Gaga, I was born this way. All I wanted was this.”
When Stuart was 13, a family tragedy helped her gain a love for jazz music.
“My father died when I was 13 and because of that, I was home alone a lot,” Stuart said. “I listened to a lot of (the radio program) Symphony Sid and he played all the jazz artists like John Coltrane, Carmen McCray and all the greats.”
She continued, “For some reason, jazz was something that appealed to me. It had so much expression and, after my father died, I had a lot of feeling in me that I needed to express.”
Throughout her career, Stuart has been fortunate enough to work with many successful performers. It was performances with people like Richard Gere in “A Long Time Comin’ A Long Time Gone” that led to her achieving outstanding reviews.
While Stuart admits that her career had “ebbs and flows,” her current music has gotten her glowing reviews.
Stuart’s most recent album, “Don’t Look Back,” has received great reviews from over 40 different reviewers, and one listen to the album can show why she received those plaudits.
From the first track, “I Just Found Out About Love,” to the conclusion of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” Stuart’s smooth voice meshes perfectly with her accompanying band, providing for a soothing jazz performance that ranks up there with early jazz musicians.
The highlight of the album is Stuart’s cover of The Beatles’ hit “Eleanor Rigby.”
Stuart’s take on “Eleanor Rigby” is much slower than the Beatles’ version, but is just as enjoyable. Stuart’s smooth voice allows her to hit many of the song’s high notes without forcing her out of her vocal range. This, tied in with the band’s syncopation, allow for a great cover of a timeless classic.
Stuart’s most recent performance in Nutley celebrated 100 years of American music.
“I’m trying to do a song from each decade,” Stuart explained. “Everything from Norah Jones, Marvin Gaye, even R. Kelly. We go straight from the old time Irving Berlin and inch our way up to current music.”
Stuart’s performance of 100 years of American music goes hand-in- hand with her hopes of growing her music background.
“I’m always trying to expand musically,” Stuart said. “I don’t play piano, but I’m hoping to learn.”
As for the future, Stuart hopes to get back into acting and continuing to teach.
“I haven’t acted in years and it’s quite challenging, I love it,” Stuart said. “I’m hoping to act again and teach more. I enjoy teaching.”
Jane Stuart will next perform on April 27 at the Helen Hayes Rehab Center in West Haverstraw, N.Y. For more information on Stuart, or to purchase her albums, visit janestuartmusic.com.