MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL Review
Jackie Ryan, who has been featured on NPR, CNN TV enEspanol and Primetime A&E, has taken another step up into the upper echelons of jazz. It will be a surprise and a glaring omission if this album isn't nominated for a Grammy next year. This is a CD that should be listened to over and over again. Because it will take repeated plays to appreciate all the nuances and surprises and moments of sheer beauty that Ryan packs into this diverse collection of songs.
Blessed with a warm, lush alto, Ryan comes out rockin' with a head bobbing rendition of the bluesy "Comin' Home, Baby," featuring an inventive arrangement by John Clayton (who arranged the phenomenal rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" that Whitney Houston sang at the 1990 Super Bowl) and lyrics by the quintessential hipster Bob Dorough.
From there she works through an intelligently thought out selection of songs, including Johnny Mercer's infectiously upbeat "Accentuate the Positive," the debut of the achingly lovely Clayton-composed ballad "Before We Fall in Love" with lyrics by Oscar winners Marilyn and Alan Bergman; the premiere of pianist John Mayer's "Rip Van Winkle" with lyrics by Mark Winkler; the little known "No One Ever Tells You," penned by Ryan's friend Carroll Coates, and a courageous rendition of "I Loves You Porgy," which Ryan sings in the dialect of the Gullah people of South Carolina, the inspiration for the Gershwins' "Porgy and Bess."
On all her albums, Ryan includes a song in Spanish in memory of her Mexican mother, once a singer with the operetta company Teatro Degollado in Guadalajara. This time she turns in a passionate performance of Luis Demetrio's torch song "La Puerta," accompanied only by the guitar prodigy Graham Dechter, whose delicate, perfectly played solo makes you want to stand up and applaud.
Ryan ventures out of her comfort zone on this sophisticated album, teaming up with Grammy Award-winning bassist John Clayton, who produced and arranged "Listen Here," the title taken from the David Frishberg song that closes the record. Clayton, has surrounded Ryan with top young jazz musicians from two Grammy nominated bands: the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton Brothers Quintet — the producer's son, three-time Grammy-nominated pianist Gerald Clayton, drummer Obed Calvaire, tenor saxophonist Rickey Woodard, Dechter on guitar and Mexican trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos.
The CD, whose package includes a 20-page booklet about the music and the musicians, was recorded, edited and mixed by Joel Moss and mastered by Joel Jaffe."
— Paul Liberatore. Marin Independent Journal