Sweet and Neat Jazz for a Good Cause
This is Abigail Riccards's third album. Perhaps that's why its 12-song playlist seems so comfortable and secure. I like her voice and interpretations, and I surely like her choices in picking repertory. It's been a long time since I've had "I've Told Every Little Star" pass my way, and it's a first that it keeps company with "Circle Game" and "Waltz for Debby."
In between are some more often performed standards such as "Smile," "Sleepin' Bee," "I Can't Give You Anything but Love," "Bye Bye Blackbird," "How Deep Is the Ocean?" and "Singin' in the Rain." The latter is given a different take from the version I covered recently by Matthew Morrison. It's much lighter and more buoyant -- a totally successful take.
Riccards has excellent musicians backing her efforts: Michael Kanan (piano), Neal Miner (bass), Peter Bernstein (guitar), and Eliot Zigmund (drums). The basic setup is a trio with either the piano or guitar, except for the first and last tracks, which use all the players. Each musician gets a chance to shine; there are many instrumental breaks. Everyone gets a solo spot in the closing, "Bye Bye Blackbird."
Riccards's voice is basically sweet and upbeat, but she can get hot too. Duke Ellington's "I Didn't Know About You" brings out her smoldering side. Jane Monheit coproduced the disc and sings duo with Riccards on "Circle Game," which I find the most memorable track.
The recorded sound balances Riccards well with the instrumentalists. The sound is rich and warm and has good definition, but the presence seems just a little bit off.
Every Little Star is a most appealing and comfortable album that creates a relaxed and enjoyable listening experience. Not only will you enjoy it, but every bit of money it brings in goes to ArtStrides in New York to provide music experiences for underprivileged children and adults.
Be sure to listen to: The Gershwin-like piano riff in the middle of "Singin' in the Rain" is beautifully executed, and it presents a different yet successful take on the familiar tune.
. . . Rad Bennett