On most vocal recordings, singers are accompanied by their usual band, perhaps with a famous guest sitting in for a track or two. If the singer and band are good, the result is pleasingbut when the singer is excellent, the band is a crackling, long-term trio on its own, and the guest is a legend, it vaults the whole enterprise into an altogether different category.
All of these elements are here, on Jackie Ryan's third release for Open Art Productions. Ryan is an excellent singer: classy and warm, with a supple, rich, wide-ranging voice, great phrasing and time and the ability to make you believe everything she says. The band is the peerless Jeff Hamilton Trio, featuring the superb bass of Christoph Luty, the exceptional playing and arranging of pianist Tamir Hendelman, and Jeff Hamilton, the world's most tasteful and musical drummer. The visiting legend is Red Holloway, who swings his posterior off on five of the fourteen tracks, and there are two more guests: guitarist Larry Koonse and harpist Carol Robbins, members of the Billy Childs sextet. Aside from their other contributions, each of them gets a powerful duet turn with Ryan.
This CD is so good that picking highlights is purely a matter of personal taste. To these ears, the peaks include the swingers "You'd Be So Nice... and "Let There be Love (Red!!), the rarely-heard "Moonlight, rendered as a luxurious bossa, and Hendelman's blazing solo on "The Best is Yet To Come. Then there are luminous ballads "Wild is the Wind, "Never Let Me Go, and "You Are There, which Dave Frishberg has identified as his favorite of all the lyrics he's written. I also appreciated Ryan's sensuous, fully-ripe approach to "Besame Mucho it's high time somebody seared the clichés off that tune and revealed how beautiful it really is.
So far, Jackie Ryan is best-known on the West Coast and in London, where she performs regularly at Ronnie Scott's; this CD will create legions of new fans in all the places in-between. Consistently excellent, gimmick-free, alternately exuberant and moving, You and the Night and the Music is a treasure, and highly recommended.