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Jackie Ryan with John Clayton & Friends: Listen Here

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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With Listen Here, vocalist Jackie Ryan offers a diverse and delectable array of Great American Songbook and jazz classics, well-known but not regularly-recorded older hits, and superb original selections. Supported by Grammy Award-winning bassist John Clayton and most able friends (including Clayton's son, pianist Gerald Clayton, a three-time Grammy nominee), the overall effort soars. It's a tour de force of talent and taste.

Ryan's voice is full, highly resonant and eminently inviting. It is also one of subtle shadings. Her colorings run from the bluest blue to the sultriest scarlet. Her intonation and rhythmic sense—knowing precisely where to place a beat within a lyric line—are uncanny. Those unique abilities assist perfectly in displaying and enhancing her fine emotional range. She covers the 14-cut session with elegance, grace and swing.

A funk version of the pop-jazz hit "Comin' Home Baby" and the straight-ahead "Gypsy in My Soul" place Ryan out in front and make the initial up-tempo statements. While they launch the effort in fine shape, Ryan's wheelhouse doors open wide on her string-accompanied "Throw It Away." Crescendo, decrescendo and lyric interplay dominate this highlight. The ensuing ballad selections "I Love You, Porgy," "A Time for Love" and "Before We Fall in Love" demonstrate Ryan's gorgeous lyric approach and mile-deep emotional depth. And, not to be constrained, she does it in Spanish, too ("La Puerta").

The gospel-ized version of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer's "Accentuate the Positive"—played here at a divine tempo— demonstrates that Ryan can sing hand-on-hip and finger-wag powerful. It's a hoot, as there's no faux soul in the rendition. She seals the deal with "No One Ever Tells You." Rickey Woodard's tenor funks up both selections

Gerald Clayton's impeccable taste, touch and meticulous accompaniment dovetail beautifully with Ryan's vocal instrument. The result is, indeed, keyboard/vocal unity. The sonorous John Clayton and guitarist Graham Dechter are understated elegance throughout. Drummer Obed Calvaire wisely never intrudes, and trumpeter Gilbert Castellano offers white- hot solos when and where he stretches out.

Listen Here is an apropos title for this wonderfully entertaining recording, one which delivers abundant aural riches by way of a truly gifted vocal talent. It's also a great suggestion.

Track Listing: Comin' Home Baby; The Gypsy In My Soul; Throw It Away; Accentuate The Positive; Anytime, Any Day, Anywhere; I Loves You Porgy; How Little We Know (How Little It Matters); La Puerta; Rip Van Winkle; A Time For Love; No One Ever Tells You; Before We Fall In Love; To The Ends Of The Earth; Listen Here.

Personnel: Jackie Ryan: vocals; Gerald Clayton: piano, organ; John Clayton: bass; Gilbert Castellanos: trumpet; Graham Dechter: guitar; Obed Calvaire: drums; Rickey Woodard: saxophone.

Title: Listen Here | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Open Art Productions

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