L.A. Jazz Scene feature

 Nancy Ruth is a talented and powerful singer who was born and raised in Canada. Always a lover of both flamenco music and jazz, she moved to Spain in 2001. On Sangria Jam, she combines together jazz, flamenco and Latin rhythms in a natural way, creating a fresh genre that fits into all three idioms.  

            Ms. Ruth (who sometimes utilizes overdubbing so as to have multiple voices on the catchier refrains), while generally in the lead, often functions as part of the ensemble. She wrote all 11 selections and her spirited music, while exploring several moods, has a consistently celebratory feel. Some selections have the singer, who also plays piano on four pieces, in a quartet with guitarist Luis Robisco, bassist Juan Soto and percussionist Juan Heredia. There are also significant appearances by Manuel Olmo on soprano, tenor and flute and Victor Vallejo on piano and trumpet with pianist Jean Louis Van Dam being prominent on “Soar.”  

            Nancy Ruth’s lyrics discuss such topics as the happiness of coming home (“Malaga”), the joy of taking chances (“Soar”), romance (the haunting ballad “Llorame”), and the difficulties of settling down (“Buleria #1”). “Jasmine Tree,” after some beautiful solo flamenco guitar by Luis Robisco (who is a major asset throughout the CD), is rhythmically exciting. “Beauty In The Ruins” features some warm long notes by the singer near its conclusion. “I Once Said I’d Stay” (about taking a chance on giving up everything for love) precedes the most stirring piece, “Temporary Home.” The passionate rhythms, Olmo’s heated soprano and the intense singing make this performance particularly memorable.  The exhilarating “Wild Imagination” and the witty “Yellow Veranda” (about food and potential love) conclude the enjoyable set.  

            All in all, this is an impressive effort by Nancy Ruth that is difficult to categorize as anything but joyful and creative music.  

-Scott Yanow, jazz journalist/historian and author of 11 books including The Jazz Singers, The Great Jazz Guitarists and Jazz On Film 1917-76

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