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Album Review

Molly Ryan: Sweepin' the Blues Away


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Molly Ryan: Sweepin' the Blues Away
New York City-based vocalist Molly Ryan makes an auspicious impression from the outset on her latest album, leading her splendid back-up quartet through the charming song, "Get Yourself a New Broom (and Sweep the Blues Away)" a light-hearted but little- known treasure written in 1938 by Ted Koehler & Harold Arlen.

Ryan seems to specialize in unearthing such overlooked gems, presenting several other prototypes in an anthology that spans the years 1909 to 1941. Even to someone who is fairly well-acquainted with the Great American Songbook, tunes such as "I'll Sit Right Down on the Moon (and Keep My Eyes On You") and "If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain") may be brand new. The first was written by James Monaco in 1912, four years after Jack Norworth and Nora Bayes' "Shine on Harvest Moon," the second by Billy Rose and Oscar Levant in 1928.

Ryan's other choices may be better known but are no less agreeable, especially in her caring hands. They include Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein's "The Folks Who Live on the Hill," Irving Berlin's "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket" and Meredith Willson's "You and I" alongside "I Wonder Who's Kissing Him Now," "You Turned the Tables on Me," "A Cottage for Sale," "Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella" and, last but by no means least, the exquisite British-born love song from 1940, "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square."

Ryan has a light and lovely soprano voice, generally admirable diction, and sings on-key. What she has most is the sort of earnestness and sincerity that makes each lyric come alive and tell a story—pretty much the whole point of being a singer, jazz or otherwise. As a bonus, Ryan includes the seldom-heard opening verse to a number of songs. She is ably supported by her talented teammates: Dan Levinson on tenor sax or clarinet, pianist Rossano Sportiello, bassist Rob Adkins and drummer Kevin Dorn—who are snug in any mood or tempo. Levinson and Sportiello are adaptable soloists who help lend the album a Swing Era vibe, while Adkins (who also solos deftly) and Dorn are rhythmic standouts.

Ryan seems to be a happy warrior, taking pleasure in what she does, as there are no less than three photos on the album in which she is smiling broadly and apparently having great fun. It is noted (in an accompanying press release) that Ryan is one of the most sought-after vocalists on the New York jazz scene. Appraising that description solely on the basis of Sweepin' the Blues Away, it is easy to understand why that may well be true.

Track Listing

Get Yourself a New Broom (and sweep the blues away); The Folks Who Live On the Hill; I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket; You and I; A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square; I'll Sit Right On The Moon; I Wonder Who's Kissing Him Now; You Turned the Tables On Me; A Cottage For Sale; Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella (On a Rainy Day); If You Want the Rainbow (You Must Have the Rain)


Molly Ryan: voice / vocals; Dan Levinson: clarinet; Rossano Sportiello: piano; Rob Adkins: bass; Kevin Dorn: drums.

Album information

Title: Sweepin' the Blues Away | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Turtle Bay Records

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