Abigail Riccards may not be known yet but Jane Monheit is, and on Riccard's Every Little Star, the famous jazz chanteur is both a mentor and co-producer. The Chicago-based Riccards began appearing in New York City in the early 2000s, garnering a good deal of critical attention from her live performances and her debut recording, When The Night Was New (Jazz Excursion, 2008).
Always supported by the best musicians, Riccards is backed up here by a piano-guitar quartet, led by pianist Michael Kanan, who handles the arrangements of all twelve songs included in this collection. His steady hand steers a neo-mainstream path, paying a counterpoint homage to John Lewis and George Shearing. Guitarist Peter Bernstein provides the string mood to the set, his introduction and accompaniment on "If I Had You" an album highlight. Bassist Neal Miner and drummer Eliot Zigmund round out the rhythm section, the quartet proving tasteful and brief support.
Riccard's instrument is one that is at once fresh and practiced. Interestingly, her voice is best framed in her duet with Monheit on Joni Mitchell's "Circle Game." Riccards' alto possesses an exegesis of the singer's art, able to fit anywhereas evidenced by her cover of Bill Evans' "Waltz For Debbie" and Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean." The culmination of her vision is on "Sleepin' Bee," where Riccards duets with only Miner's walking bass. Riccards' footing is secure and her future bright.
I’ve Told Every Little Star; If I Had You; Singin’ In The Rain; How Deep
Is The Ocean; Circle Game; Sleepin’ Bee; I Didn’t Know About You; I
Can’t Give You Anything But Love; Smile; Waltz For Debbie; Endless Joy;
Bye Bye Blackbird.
Abigail Riccards: vocals; Michael Kanan: piano; Neal Miner: bass; Peter
Bernstein: guitar; Eliot Zigmund: drums.