The 2002 vocal jazz scene shifts back to what it must have been like during Duke Ellington's highly successful residency at the Cotton Club with the debut of Jackie Ryan's Passion Flower. The sultry vocalist debuted with 14 tracks that exude style, class, and sensuality and a true knowledge of the jazz vocals idiom. Ryan has a marvelous voice, and her approach is tasteful, swinging, and heartfelt on her flower-medley tribute to Billy Strayhorn, which she has titled "A Bouquet for Billy." The medley consists of "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing" and the title track, "Passion Flower." She ponders Strayhorn's classic gems and gives them a new melodic fragrance. She later tackles the supreme mood piece, "Mood Indigo," with a blues flavor, abstract instrumental accompaniment but not with the famous "jungle" style Duke Ellington was known for at the Cotton Club. In addition to the songs from Strayhorn, there are favorites from the international songbook and a mournful cover of Billie Holiday's "Now or Never." "The Kicker," originally written by sax legend Joe Henderson, is just that, and now has new lyrics penned by Jackie Ryan. She also adds poignant English lyrics to the haunting Spanish melody of "O Silencio das Estrellas" and serenades her listeners with languid elongated phrasing and velvety soft vocal Spanish caresses on the sad ballad "Historia de un Amor. Ryan sings these songs beautifully and with so much passion. Her compositional strengths and music is definitely open art and should attract a loyal international following for the classic beauty.
AllMusic Review by Paula Edelstein