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Ellyn Rucker: Thoughts of You

She’s billed as “Ellyn Rucker, vocals and piano,” but why not reverse the order? Her solos and comping reveal excellent piano chops and swing. Nice moments throughout, but you’ll have to work hard to understand her words-Gene Lees’ poetry on “Velas” and Alan and Marilyn Bergman’s lyric on “Kisses,” for example-obscured in a haze of breathy vocalese and busy arrangements. The Denver-based group includes keyboardist Eric Gunnison, who contributes synth colors and a funky B-3 solo; Laura Newman, singing soprano sax; and John Gunther, fine tenor sax and flute; Mark Simon, acoustic and electric bass; Jill Fredericksen, drums; Randy Chavez, guitar; and Mike Marlier, percussion, lay down a groove on Corea’s “Times Lie/High Wire (The Aerialist)” and Tom Garvin’s “Something Funny.” Other tunes are Stevie Wonder’s jazz-funk, “Creepin’,” Rucker’s lyric to Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” Bill Evans” “Very Early” and her original, the title track. Singer Mark Murphy’s liner notes make clear he’s really! enthusiastic! about Ellyn Rucker.

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