Best of Lovesongs
Review by Willard Manus

Valentine's Day has come and gone, but Jackie Ryan's recent tribute to the holiday lives on. Her recent OpenArt release, BEST OF LOVE SONGS, offers fifteen romantic ballads culled from the CDs she recorded between 2002-07. Ryan, cited by Jazz Times as "one of the outstanding jazz vocalists of her generation and, quite possibly, of all time," shows off her amazing chops on this new disc, one minute swinging, the next going soft and dreamy, only to shift gears again with two Latin-inflected love songs, one in Spanish (Historia De Un Amor), the other in Portuguese (Jobim's Luiza).

Ryan was born with a multi-ethnic pedigree. Her mother is a Mexican who sang operettas in Guadalajara, her father an Irish/French classically-trained baritone. Ryan has them to thank for her dulcet tones and kinetic stage presence. She connects viscerally with audiences, which is undoubtedly the reason for her long stint as house singer at Ronnie Scott's in London. Ryan has also performed at top venues in the USA, Europe and Asia with such jazz stalwarts as Cyrus Chestnut, Clark Terry, Toots Thielemans and Buddy DeFranco, to name but a few.

The players on BEST OF LOVE SONGS are equally illustrious. Pianist Larry Vuckovich is Ryan's favorite accompanist, ditto Jeff Chambers (bass) and Jeff Hamilton (drums). But because the CD's fifteen tracks were recorded at different times and places, such diverse musicians as Carol Robbins (harp), Luis Romero (percussion) and Allen Smith (Trumpet) are also heard.

Rising above all the horns and strings, of course, is Ryan's deep, smoky, achingly beautiful voice. Coupled with her heartfelt emotion and impeccable phrasing, Ryan's singing is what makes BEST OF LOVE SONGS such satisfying listening. There's another good reason to buy the CD: its 2010 profits will go to Oxfam's Haiti Relief Fund (