Influenced by the Mexican folk songs that her mother taught her and the classically-trained baritone voice of her father, Jackie began singing as a small child and, by the age of 15, began performing professionally, composing and singing for local dance bands.
A turning point in Jackie’s career came about when she sat in with vocalese innovator Eddie Jefferson’s band (she credits Jefferson’s early enthusiastic support as being inspirational for her both as a jazz singer and as a lyricist). Since then, she has written and recorded not only vocalese lyrics to such be-bop improvisations as Joe Henderson’s “The Kicker,” but also lyrics to ballads such as Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” and Barry Harris’ “Deep Love.”
Jackie’s multicultural heritage (Mexican, Irish, Spanish and French) and her natural affinity for singing in several languages (English, Italian, French, Spanish and Portuguese) has added to her increasing international acclaim. Ms. Ryan has toured North America, Japan, Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain and London – where she has performed regularly for the last five years at Europe’s premier jazz venue Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club.
Reviewing her performance there, jazz critic, Jack Massarik, of one of London’s top newspapers, The Evening Standard, called her “One of the best singers to sing at Ronnie Scott’s since Shirley Horn.” So impressed with Jackie was the club’s owner, Pete King, that he asked her to return and record a live CD for Ronnie Scott’s prestigious Jazz House label. (“Whisper Not” released in the U.K ) Among the many musicians Jackie has sung, recorded, or toured with are Clark Terry (at the Monterey Jazz Festival), Toots Thielemans, Ernie Watts, Terry Gibbs, Buddy DeFranco, George Gaffney, and Roy McCurdy, and Jon Hendricks.
Jackie has recorded 3 CD s that have been distributed in the U.S. Her first CD, “For Heaven’s Sake” (Blueport) recorded live with The Mike Wofford Trio, received overwhelming praise and rose to the Top 40 on the National Gavin Jazz Chart. Jazz critic John Adams cited it as: “One of the most pleasant and intelligently conceived releases of tunes in some time . . . marking a return to lyricism, grace and melodic beauty in jazz.”
Her second US release,”Passion Flower” (OpenArt Records), reached the TOP 20 Nationwide. AllAboutJazz proclaimed it, “One of the best vocal albums of 2002!”
Her third and latest US release, “This Heart Of Mine” (OpenArt Records) was in the TOP 5 Nationwide for 3 weeks and stayed in the TOP 20 for several months. Accompanied by three different all-star bands and a host of special guests (including Toots Thielemans and Ernie Watts ), this CD has won unanimous high praise from the top jazz critics and the top jazz magazines in the nation, including JAZZ TIMES, JAZZIZ and JAZZIMPROV. It also received a ‘4 STAR’ rating (=”excellent”) from DOWNBEAT. (See CD reviews).
DJ, Bob Perkins, of the very popular WRTI jazz radio station in Philadelphia, said, “If we ever stop playing “This Heart Of Mine” our listeners will picket the station!” Indeed, WRTI’s listeners voted “This Heart Of Mine” as their #1 favorite CD.
In a review of one of Jackie’s live performances, Don Heckman of the Los Angeles Times, exclaimed, “This is jazz singing at its very best!”