Jackie Ryan at Night Town (2012)

Steve Frumkin, one of the guys from Cleveland who books a lot of jazz shows around the country, called the other day to talk about the lineup at this year’s Lakeland Jazz Festival. Just before he hung up he said, “By the way, if you got nothing going on tonight you have to check out the woman we have singing at Nighttown tonight.” When Steve recommends someone, I usually try to follow through. And I am very glad I did this time.

Headlining at Nighttown last Friday was San Francisco based vocalist Jackie Ryan, backed by a trio of Cleveland’s best players. She came to town to showcase her new release “Listen Here.” She was very good, and hopefully will become a regular at Nighttown in the years to come.

She did two sets of about an hour apiece, mostly featuring things from the new CD. She has the type of voice that is perfect for Nighttown, strong yet romantic, sultry but not overly sentimental. She has great stage presence, and her selection of songs really showed off her talents. She covered a few standards by a variety of composers (Gerswhins, Ronny Carter, Henry Mencini), and a few lost ones ( Abbey Lincoln). Both sets featured a song or two sung in Spanish and Brazilian, a nod to her own Latin American heritage. The audience loved all of it.

She was backed by Dan Meier on piano, Glenn Davis on guitar, and Demetrius Stone on bass, and they clicked with Ryan as if they had been playing with her for years instead for just the evening. On a cold Ohio Friday night it was a great night of jazz and vocals.
For more about Jackie Ryan and her music go to www.jackieryan.com. For all things Nighttown go to www.nighttowncleveland.com. And, yes, don’t forget about the upcoming Lakeland Jazz Festival February 22-24 at Lakeland Community College, featuring saxophonist Chris Potter on Saturday night. For more info go to http://lakelandcc.edu/academic/arts/music/jazz_festival.asp.