Ruby Moon, Vicarious Pleasures (Jumping Man Records)

Ruby Moon, Vicarious Pleasures, album cover

Ruby Moon keeps the tradition of the red-hot mamas alive, applying her deep, sultry voice and occasional wide vibrato to an array of bluesy standards and ought-to-be standards for an impressive, and incredibly listenable, debut. Sticking with a classic jazz singer format, Moon’s band on this outing is basically an acoustic piano rhythm section with a variety of crack horns. That means trading riffs with noted Dr. John trumpeter Charlie Miller in a tango take on Romberg and Hammerstein’s “Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise” or digging in alongside the R&B veteran as he applies a plunger mute in a soul-searing “St. James Infirmary.” Bruce Brackman adds some sassy clarinet to “I Want A Little Sugar In My Bowl,” complementing Moon’s breezy interpretation of Bessie Smith’s steam, and Dominick Grillo’s intricate tenor sax decorates her heavily rhythmic revisiting of “House of the Rising Sun” (bassist JD Haenni, one of two on the disc, delivers a tasty solo here, too). But it’s pianist (and producer) Bart Ramsey who provides the real backbone of Moon’s band, comping on the heavier blues, doubling on accordion on two tracks, and filling in just enough throughout. In particular, on his own “The Clowns Are Taking Over,” one of his six originals here, Ramsey’s crisp accompaniment and spare solo play against Moon’s heavy voice delightfully, providing the splash of piquancy that plays up her smoky delights.