Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Jackie Ryan and the Night and the Music

Her new album, You and the Night and the Music (OpenArt Productions), served as my introduction to the artistry of San Francisco vocalist Jackie Ryan. A fascinating and often compelling voyage through the American songbook, Ryan impresses with faultless pitch, phrasing, and musicality. The anchor of her backing here is the trio of pianist Tamir Hendelman, bassist Christoph Luty and drummer Jeff Hamilton. They are joined on several of the selections by saxophonist Red Holloway, harpist Carol Robbins and guitarist Larry Koonse, with Robbins and Koonse each joining Ryan for a duet with her.

From the opening moments of You‘re So Nice to Come Home To, with Hendelman’s insistent piano and Holloway’s emphatic tenor to the lingering notes of the duet with guitarist Koonse, While We’re Young. She displays not only her broad vocal range, but, as importantly, her extensive, expressive range as she belts out the opening number or equally convinces on the marvelous, intimate duet with Robbins, You Are There. Her relaxed vocal on Ray Noble’s The Very Thought of You, is complemented by Holloway’s empathic tenor.

He mother was Mexican who sang to her Spanish folk tunes when she was growing up and she sings Besame Mucho in Spanish with her pleasing vocal complimented by Koonse’s striking acoustic guitar which Hendelman’s spare piano effectively complements. In addition to Ryan’s vocal and Holloway’s potent playing, bassist Luty has a strong solo playing with the bow on Let There Be Love. The Best is Yet to Come may be best known from Frank Sinatra’s classic recording, but Ryan, with her trio accompaniment, gives this classic a fresh take.

One would have to stretch to find anything to even quibble about on this truly excellent disc by a vocalist that so many have rightfully have taken notice of, and much more will be expected of in the future.

My review originally appeared in the November 2008 Jazz & Blues Report (issue 310). My review copy was provided by a publicist for the release. Here is Jackie singing The Very Thought of You with Tamir Henderson on piano and Red Holloway on tenor sax.

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