Abigail Riccards
"When the Night is New"

(Jazz Excursion)
When the Night is New

Review by Brad Walseth

Featuring a truly lovely voice and and a relaxed delivery, Abigail Riccards places herself at the forefront of young singers to watch for on her wonderful new release, "When the Night is New." Riccards makes her stand with a set of songs from the songbooks of Burke and Van Huesen ("But Beautiful"), Cole Porter (a wicked, spiraling "Just One of Those Things"), Rogers and Hammerstein (& Hart) "It Might as Well Be Spring," "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" and Sting ("I Was Brought To My Senses").

The singer also relies on the help of a superb supporting cast, including David Berkman on keyboards, Matt Wilson on drums, Ben Allison on bass and fellow Thelonious Monk Competition finalist Lage Lund on guitar. The ubiquitous Wilson, especially seems to have become the drummer of choice for female vocalists, due to his creativity and sensitivity.

We've heard all of these songs before, but the arrangements (mostly by Berkman) are surprising in their twists and quite addictive. Some of many highlights include: Berkman's swinging piano solo on "East of the Sun" and sticky-fingered organ on "The Thrill is Gone;" Lund's tasty guitar scampering on "The Very Thought of You;" Allison, Wilson and percussionist Rogerio Boccato's rhythm work on a sultry version of "If I Should Lose You;" and Berkman's piano comping, Wilson's powerhouse drumwork and the cooly clever horns by Adam Kolker and Ron Horton on "It Might as Well be Spring."

Meanwhile, Riccards voice is like butter melting in a pan smooth and delicious. Her version of Billie Holiday/Mal Waldron's "Left Alone" in which she sings accompanied only by Allison's bass and Horton's flugelhorn lingers much in mind, as does the album ending "I'll Be Seeing You," where she is backed merely by Lund. Rich, dark and relaxed, creative and always in command, Riccard's delivery is soothing and entrancing and will please lovers of female jazz singers.

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