Personnel includes: Jackie Ryan (vocals); Ernie Watts (saxophone); Allen Smith (trumpet); Toots Thielemans (harmonica); Jon Mayer (piano); Ruth Davies (bass); Omar Clay (drums); Yutaka Yokakura.
Recorded at Entourage, Hollywood, California; Mobius, San Francisco, California and Visual Rhythm, Alhambra, California.
On the surface, this seems to be just another excellent vocal jazz recording by a popular San Francisco-based singer whose best-known longtime gig is the London club Ronnie Scott's. Yet the exotica of Ryan and the music she chooses is so much a part of the story, from her sultry Italian on "Estate" to her crafty Portuguese on Jobim's joyful samba "Anos Dourados." Her bio makes multiple mentions of her multiethnic background -- Mexican, Irish, and French -- perhaps to justify her ability to tackle the foreign tunes. Yet at heart, she's an honest to God jazz singer in the Sarah Vaughan/Betty Carter mode who seems coziest on lush ballads like the title track and fun swingers like "A Sleepin' Bee" and Ellington's "Jump for Joy," which starts as a sparse, stylish duet with voice and John Wiitala's bass before incorporating Allen Smith's playful muted trumpet. Each song has a credited arranger, an obvious ode to the care with which Ryan chose and interpreted this varied material. Although her name is still not on the lips of mainstream jazz fans, Ryan's association here with legends like Toots Thielemans (who adds harmonica romance to tunes like "Estate") and Ernie Watts (whose inimitable tenor infuses three tunes), along with her diverse talents, will help expose her to a well-deserved wider audience. ~ Jonathan Widran