CRITICAL JAZZ Review
**** 4 Stars. An "A" list singer with an "A" list band. A superior recording across the board. When vocals as top flight as Ryan's are paired up with what may be essentially one of the best working bands in jazz - the end results will be spot on.
In the tightly clustered pack of female vocalists, Jackie Ryan sets herself apart with flair, finesse and originality while having perhaps the "A" list backup band in jazz today.
Jackie Ryan brings not only a tremendous amount of talent but also tremendous respect from her contemporaries. Her musical resume is most impressive, having recorded with Clark Terry, Toots Thielemans, and Cyrus Chestnut, among others. "Listen Here," not only has Grammy Award winner John Clayton as Producer/Arranger, it also has Clayton accompanying Ryan on bass; Clayton's son Gerald (who is more than a star in his own right) sitting in on piano and organ, and the great Obed Calvaire on drums. One particular gem to keep your eye on, is the up and coming Graham Dechter on guitar, a monster player whose musical stock is an arrow pointing straight up.
A tremendous amount of ground is covered here ... blues, gospel, a Spanish ballad, and two original tunes that are certainly far from throwaways. Some of the more eclectic tunes where Ryan excels include the incredible Abbey Lincoln song "Throw It Away" and the standard from lyricist Johnny Mercer, "Accentuate The Positive." Another remarkable standard that Ryan nails with seemingly little or no effort is the George Gershwin tune "I Loves You Porgy." One of the highlights of the release is "Before We Fall In Love" written by bassist John Clayton. A beautiful melody kept simple, concise and with uncompromising lyrics from two of the better contemporaries working today - Alan and Marilyn Bergman.