How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
San Francisco-based chanteuse Jackie Ryan has a smoky contralto, an impressively wide vocal range and an actress' flair for delivering dramatic lyrics. That adds up to a winning combination on this collection of love songs.
Backed by a top-notch trio of Los Angeles musicians, Ryan delivers straight-ahead performances of 14 mostly familiar romantic tunes. She shows she can swing hard on Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To," sing with deep feeling on a heartfelt Spanish-language reading of "Besame Mucho" and kick up the sex appeal on a seductive take on "The Very Thought of You." She's also helped immensely by the presence of veteran tenor saxophonist Red Holloway, who provides perfectly phrased solos on five tracks, guitarist Larry Koonse, also heard on five cuts, and Carol Robbins, whose harp is heard on three tunes.
If there's a complaint here it's that the choice of songs, as lovely as they are, sticks too close to the tried and true. Relying on standards doesn't have to mean avoiding surprises. But there's no knocking the beauty of Jackie Ryan's voice and her talent as a jazz singer.
Track Listing: You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To; The Very Thought of You; Something Happens to Me; Besame Mucho; Let There Be Love; Wild is the Wind; Moonlight; The Best is Yet to Come; You and the Night and the Music; You Are There; I Just Found Out About Love; Never Let Me Go; I Know That You Know; While We're Young.
Personnel: Jackie Ryan: vocals; Tamir Hendelman: piano; Christoph Luty: bass; Jeff Hamilton: drums; Red Holloway: tenor sax; Larry Koonse: guitar; Carol Robbins: harp.