The hair still stands on my arms as I recall her sultry, sexy, sensuous take of the great latin composition…”Estate.” Jazz pianist-vocalist Ellyn Rucker, is truly in her element as leader of this pristine CD project. In her own words, “I realize I have my own sound to offer.” Ergo, she has stood firmly on those past & present artistic, yet influential shoulders to help her get to where she is today. The journey for us her listeners, is a tasty, musical, & unforgettable experience. Kudos too, to the flawless sidemen Ellyn is won’t to work with. As a journeyman jazz pianist-vocalist, I adhere to this philosophy as well. It’s always a labor of love to work with folks better than oneself, such that one’s musical journey is always one of learning, growth, and joy. Ellyn’s a national treasure. She plays & sings with a natural sense of musical symmetry and taste. If she has yet to explode on to the musical world, it is imminent that she will. NOW: Reviewed by George W. Carroll, The Musicans’ Ombudsman.
Not many people can get away with putting two 5/4 bossa novas into a single program, but pianist and singer Ellyn Rucker has always done things a bit differently. On her fifth album as a leader she steers clear of the usual repertoire of jazz standards, instead selecting a winning program of more obscure material both new and old, though a number of the songs and tunes were written by such familiar names as Horace Silver (the vocal version of “Strollin'”), Quincy Jones (Stockholm Sweetnin'”), Ron Carter (“Last Resort”), and Irving Berlin (“Best Thing for You”). The arrangements call for a shifting complement of sidemen; her cool and lovely rendition of “Stockholm Sweetnin'” is performed by a standard quartet that includes alto saxophonist Rich Chiaraluce, while she handles Leonard Bernstein’s “Lucky to Be Me” all alone, singing and accompanying herself on piano. Rucker is an expert and charming singer, but for some reason this album’s highlights tend to come on the instrumental numbers: her duo arrangement (with the exquisitely tasteful bassist Dave Young) of Lerner & Lowe’s “Heather on the Hill” is simply gorgeous, as is her simple trio take on “Last Resort.” And she effectively treads the fine line between excessive rhythmic looseness and effortless swing on those two 5/4 bosses, both of which could probably have done without the additional vocal contributions of their male composer. Recommended. NOW: Reviewed by Rick Anderson
It’s amazing how many highly talented jazz performers there are who prefer the home front to the density of life in the Apple. Ellyn Rucker maker her home in Denver, plays a lot of piano and is a darn good jazz singer. On her latest CD for Colorado’s Capri label, Ellyn works out with a varied cast of in the pocket local cats on some great material like “Estate,” “Strollin,'” “Stockholm Sweetnin,'” “The Best Thing For You,” “Lucky To Be Me,” and “Heather On The Hill.” 3 1/2 stars. NOW: Reviewed by George Fendel, Oregon Jazzscene.
Ellyn Rucker, “ELLYN”
“(The first side) concentrates on her piano playing with the full-bodied scurry and wail of Pete Christlieb’s tenor…The expressiveness of her piano is further pronounced on her own composition…Letting the melody speak for itself, no technical grandstanding, no hammering insistence on the beat. And yet it’s not understated; its forthright and honest…(Side B) concentrates on the singing. As in her playing, it is direct and honest a slightly whispery quality at the lower end, rising to a richer, sweeter tone. Even when she reaches for emphasis, her voice retains a slightly mysterious mood, almost as if she’s inviting the listener to share a secret, a voice that takes you into its confidence…She retains that open-hearted feel of her ballad singing…She plays full-chorded, unaccompanied piano (on two songs)…Giving full weight to the tunes, but underlining them with an especially firm left hand…This is an impressive debut, enough to put Ellyn Rucker on my list of singers deserving wider recognition: Anita Gravine, Carol Sloane, Sue Raney, and the late Irene Krall.” CODA – Peter Strevens