Abigail Riccards – Every Little Star (2013)

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Abigail Riccards has decamped to Chicago, where she continues to ply her trade as an intimate and involving singer — not to mention a respected educator. But time spent in New York, which exposed her to the work of Artsrides, still resonates.

In fact, she’s donating all the proceeds from this delightful new album of small-band standards to the nonprofit, which facilitates arts programs for disabled and otherwise disadvantaged children. That might be reason enough to purchase Every Little Star, which is due July 9, 2013.

But then Riccards goes and makes another completely enchanting recording, building upon the successes of 2011’s Soft Rains Fall — while expanding upon that project’s duo format with the addition of a smart and spritely quartet that includes the Tommy Flanagan-like pianist/arranger Michael Kanan, bassist Neal Miner, drummer Eliot Zigmund and guitarist Peter Bernstein.

Zigmund, of course, was a late-period collaborator with Bill Evans, and there are times when Every Little Star has the diaphanous feel of his trio’s best work — most notably, of course, on their reverie-filled take on “Waltz for Debby.” Bernstein’s ruminative work on “Smile” encircles Riccard’s confidential vocal like a badly needed hug. Miner, who has done notable work with Annie Ross, adds a funky articulation as Riccards takes “Sleepin’ Bee” on a gently swinging, vocalese-inspired journey.

Producer Jane Monheit, a respected singer in her own right, joins Riccards for a sun-flecked take on Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game” — which, with its reflections on youthful exuberance, brings Every Little Star back around to its larger theme: Riccards has brought a sense of child-like wonder to a project meant to ensure that the next generation shares it, too.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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