When the Night Is New
Judging from the close-up images of raven-haired Brooklynite Abigail Riccards that grace both the front and back of her inaugural disc, her resemblance to Norah Jones is nothing short of startling. Riccards, whose voice is slightly fuller, rounder and decidedly more jazz-tinged, also shares Jones’ youthfulness and enormous potential. Like Jones, she seems wise beyond her years. Many a young singer can travel the breadth of such superbly crafted standards as “East of the Sun,” “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” and “But Beautiful.” Far rarer are those who, like Riccards, can successfully navigate their depth. A twentysomething neophyte can’t be expected to truly understand the bruised ache of “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” the hard truth of “The Thrill Is Gone” or the tenderly wistful adieu that is “I’ll Be Seeing You.” But Riccards can and does, with style, keen intuition and ease that echo another outstanding vocalist of recent vintage, Roberta Gambarini. Nor does it hurt that Riccards has surrounded herself with players of comparable intelligence and sensitivity, including, among gifted others, bassist Ben Allison, drummer Matt Wilson and David Berkman, who does himself proud at the piano and as Riccards’ principal arranger.