Seattle PI

"Talk about keeping it simple, jazz singer/songwriter Ellynne's latest album I Will has her singing her vocals with only a guitar and and bass accompaniment, and not only does she manage to make it work, she makes it magical.  It just goes to show, if you have the voice and if you have the material, you don't need all that lavish production. To coin a cliche, less is more…"  [read full article on the site]

O's Place Jazz Magazine

"Singer Ellynne teams with bassist Harvie S and guitarist John Tropea for a rich set of seven originals and three covers.  Their minimalist approach is both deliberate and precise.  This combination leaves no place to hide unveiling true tonal character from start to finish… This is an enjoyable session!   4/4

Acoustic Music Exchange

"This appears to be a good time for a revival of stripped down combos matrixing showcases of individual talents, and Ellynne's I Will benefits from this…" [use link to read full article]

Midwest Record/volume 35/Number 148

"...This is one of those simple but elegant dates where the singer really puts it out front with everything she's got.  Well done."

"Ellynne is out of the singer/songwriter mode that drives critics, not to mention label executives, nuts, because she is not easily typecast into the myriad of sub-genres that are confusing the jazz idiom today.  Naturally, I felt compelled to add my own sub-genre, NPR Jazz:  solid, well performed, but a bit off the beaten path and this is a good thing…"

Cadence Magazine

Ellynne sings with a great alto voice through a half dozen standards here, as well as that many more of her own clever compositions. In concept, Plotnick brings to mind Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg, though she fields a much more attractive voice with broader range than they do. The recording ends on a particularly poignant note, as he covers wonderfully the too little used Alec Wilder tune, "While We're Young." This is a strong recording by a fine new singer with both talent and taste. 

Midwest Record

"…Not just another romp through the chestnuts, Rey delivers the goods in the kind of tour de force that makes it all worthwhile again and again.  Well done and a solid treat for jazz vocal fans."

Jazz Mostly

Jazz CD Reviews – July 2014

July 1, 2014

Ellynne Rey A Little Bit Of Moonlight (self produced)

Singing a nice selection of songs drawn mainly from the Great American Songbook interspersed with jazz pieces by Mal Waldron (Soul Eyes), Thelonious Monk (Ruby, My Dear), McCoy Tyner (You Taught My Heart To Sing) and Bill Evans (Blue In Green), Ellynne Rey shows herself to be a confident addition to the jazz singing scene. Ellynne has a warmly intimate style and is accompanied by pianist Bennett Paster, drummer Tony Jefferson, percussionist Daniel Sadownick, and notably by guitarist Gene Bertoncini and bassist Paul Beaudry.

High points on the album include Ellynne and Gene on How Deep Is The Ocean and the Monk and Tyner songs, while Elynne and Paul share their obvious mutual respect and delight on What A Little Moonlight Can Do. Elsewhere, Bennett has several good solos and the percussionists keep things nicely buoyed, in particular on Latin-tinged tracks that include My One And Only Love and Besame Mucho. The care and understanding with which Ellynne interprets lyrics is evident throughout, and is demonstrated especially with Meredith D’Ambrosio’s words to Blue In Green, and on songbook staples such as I Fall In Love Too Easily, another example of singer with guitar and bass. Altogether, an attractive album that should appeal to many.

Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange

A Little Bit of Moonlight

Ellynne Rey

Available from CD Baby

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

Bennett Paster (piano), Paul Beaudry (bass), and Tony Jefferson (drums) really set the tone for Ellynne Rey's A Little Bit of Moonlight in the intro to Make Someone Happy. The immortal Dindi is a weeper-cool classic, but Rey does something I've been wanting to hear for quite some time, injecting an upbeat tempo and tons of wistful smiles, almost reconverting the song…but not quite. It's still faithful but no longer on the down-lo, instead refreshingly sweet and full of girl-next-door desire. And I think we can call Rey a female crooner…but not always, as she has more than one musical poker in the fire.

She couldn't have chosen better, though, than when she picked Bennett for the lead spot beneath her. The guy understands EXACTLY where the punctuations go and then shines like a star in solos, especially during Mal Waldron's Soul Eyes, bringing everything he does to its highest pitch. The guy can be delicate as bone china one moment and exuberant the next, neither trait clashing with the other in the least, no matter how closely allied. Ah, but then there's a set of Rey duets with famed guitarist Gene Bertoncini, starting with a really cool exercise in Charlie Byrd tonalities in How Deep is the Ocean. These numbers perhaps best illuminate Rey's bottom line, with Invitation later showing where her interpretations arise. Listen carefully, however, when Gene re-appears with the band in Blue in Green.

Suddenly It's Spring picks up the pace again, but Moonlight is chiefly mellifluous on the up side of moody and wistful. If the bass intro to What a Little Moonlight Can Do doesn't make your heart skip a beat, then, brother, you may already be dead, and I'd check with a doctor just in case. Bertoncini glides in to make the cut a trio, Rey bops around a bit, and soon we're back in Jazz Pan Alley days, everyone swingin' 'n grinnin'. The disc features a generous 15 songs, and I suggest you reserve it for romantic occasions, to set the mood in satin and velvet. On the other hand, it'd sure go well with a rainy night or as accompaniment to a midnight cruise down a lonely highway. Whatever the milieu, Ms. Rey and her music sets the stage for the more thoughtful side of life and love, and if you decide to take a raincheck on that, well, don't be surprised if in your aesthetic library you get Scooby-Doo and The Archies comic books instead of literature.


Jazz Weekly

New York based Ellynne Rey has a clear toned and earnest delivery that gives hints of Broadway on this mix of standards. Joined together with Paul Beaudry/b, Gene Bertoncini/g, Tony Jefferson/dr, Bennett Paster/p, and Daniel Sadownick/perc, she is able to show some gravitas on a dark "Soul Eyes" or a gentle reassurance on "Ruby My Dear." Her fragile delivery of "Invitation" is impressive, while she sounds upbeat on "Suddenly, It's Spring," and her vibrato is rich on "Besame Mucho." Eager to please!

O's Place Jazz Magazine

"…Great songs, good arrangements, and super execution make this a set with tunes that will engage a large audience.  Among the best are "Invitation," "Dindi," and "My One and Only Love."

Highlands Magazine

On se met en condition pour l'ecoute de ce A LITTLE BIT OF MOONLIGHT.  Imaginez-vous dans une boite de nuit enfumée de New York avec un bon bourbon, devant vous sur la scène une chanteuse plein de charme emporte votre adhésion dans un style des plus feutres.  Vous regardez l'affiche au mur, il s'agit d'Ellynne REY, elle est accompagnee par Bennett PASTER au piano, Paul BEAUDRY a la contrebasse, Tony JEFFERSON a la batterie et du guitariste Gene BERTONCINI.  Elle joue ici son dernier CD constitue des reprises signées des plus grands noms de la musique américaine, celle qui a berce son enfance, on passe de Thelonious MONK, McCoy TYNER, a Bill EVANS ou Miles DAVIS. Tout est chante avec charme et conviction, une voix chaleureuse pleine d'intimité qui vous berce sans difficulté revisitant l'éternel gréât american song book.  Du jazz intimiste comme c'est souvent le cas avec ces divas, porte par des musiciens talentueux respectant les règles du genre.  GENE BERTONCINI s'y montre fin guitariste a la AL DIMEOLA, Paco DE LUCIA préférant la guitare acoustique jazz.  L'excellent contrebassiste Paul BEAUDRY parcourt le manche de son instrument avec grâce tel un félin.   Beaucoup de compos traditionnelles, sans surprise, par contre on fait une virée latine avec My One And Only Love et le fameux Besame Mucho dans une version qui fait l'unanimité, la voix étant resplendissante, emporter par la contrebasse et les percussions de Daniel SADOWNICK.  On ne peut guère parler d'un musicien plus que d'un autre, ils sont tous excellents.  Bennett PASTER au piano ou l'excellent sic cordiste qui se fait bien remarquer sur How Deep Is The Ocean un titre d'Irving BERLIN datant de 1932 déjà interprète par un tas d'artistes.  Autre belle reprise Blue In Green de Miles DAVIS et Bill EVANS datant de 1959 sur l'album Kind of Blue devenue un standard culte du jazz.  Miss REY revisite vraiment de très grand classiques en final So Many Stars de Sergio MENDES de 1966 chante avec une grâce certaine, la classe des grande romantiques, Ellynne ayant vraiment reçu un don. On est vraiment bien dans cette boite et en très bonne compagnie!

Talkin' Broadway - Sound Advice

If Ellynne Rey's album had become stuck in my CD player, I would not have noticed. I've kept it in there for days, happily playing it over and over and noticing nice new nuances each time in the singing and accompaniment. A Little Bit of Moonlight is a whole lot of interesting beauty without a lot of fanfare or a lot of musicians. With just five instrumentalists, and with the pianist or guitarist often serving as almost duet partner front and center, this lesson in "less is more" is more than gratifying. The voice of Ellynne Rey is one of the rare treats successful in finding that elusive perfect balance between a secure ever-so-cool jazz sound and a projected warmth. The cool is never chilly enough to come off as aloof or disengaged. The warmth never gets overheated to melt into soggy sentimentality. Suggesting a mature intelligence, words sound prudently thought out, or being thought and realized in the moment. Feelings, similarly, seem either being experienced or explored again in retrospect. The clear, clean alto is reliably pleasing and in control. Crisply enunciating the words and floating on the music or securely settled in the driver's seat and switching emotional or musical gears with ease, this Connecticut-based artist soars and succeeds with flying colors.

For many browsing years, the name of guitarist Gene Bertoncini printed on outside packaging as accompanist has been enough motivation/insurance for me to grab any singer's album. His sensitive and cerebral work is always tasteful and often moving. He is aboard here, getting plenty of the musical spotlight. As in the past, he can act as a give-and-take "conversationalist" with the vocalist, take the lead with consummate artistry or judicious minimalism, or smoothly step back more to the background to be the supportive team player (but never a disappearing act). And although this is my first review of her, the songstress's voice is not a new one for my eager ears. Two albums of recent years were not ignored, but since they focused on original material and she's not coming from the world of theatre, they weren't suited for this column. But they suit me just fine. (Two earlier recordings, shortly before or after my tenure here—which did have standards—did not come my way.) These earlier releases had her billed as Ellynne Plotnick; the name may have changed, but she remains safely and serenely in the comfort zone of a musically savvy songstress who knows the territory and seems to own it. The appreciative and appreciated liner notes by articulate jazz critic Will Friedwald are particularly perceptive in perspective.

Although none of her original songs are included this time, Ellynne is almost always quite original in her approach. "What a Little Moonlight Can Do," most closely associated with Billie Holiday, is often employed by singers for zip, as a playful pick-me-up of aphrodisiac intent. Instead, more relaxed and slower, it becomes a genuine appreciation of the magic of the lunar lighting effects. Shunning the "cute" approach, she begins by snuggling up to the sole accompaniment of Paul Beaudry, bassist with potent presence, and then Bertoncini soon joins in, mining the moonglow in various economic ways. To invoke the album's title, a little bit of moonlight goes a long way and, without ever winking or getting sticky, it's romantic and sexy.

Although the writing credits on the back cover's list of the 15 tracks neglects to name lyricists in a couple of cases, the lyrics themselves get plenty of loving care. The involved phrasing sometimes takes us off the well-beaten paths in emphasis, partly through creative tempo rethinking and well-used pauses. There's a kind of determinedness in how many lines are delivered, which adds gravitas to what could be breezy. Things matter.

From the musical Do Re Mi, the standard "Make Someone Happy" has an intent and intensity that makes it seem both fresh and weighty. Bennett Paster's piano intro and stick-to-it-iveness make it serious, although we get a respite for a brief fanciful piano solo after the mood is established and confirmed. Betty Comden and Adolph Green's advice on prioritizing "the real stuff in life to cling to"—grabbing hold of loving relationships over the pursuit of fleeting fame comes through. Ellynne commands, too, the melody by Jule Styne. Styne's earlier graceful and fragile landscape for a ballad introduced by Frank Sinatra in the movie musical Anchors Aweigh, "I Fall in Love Too Easily," is another gem well cared for, with vulnerability and self-awareness mixed in satisfying balance as the wise but wistful lyric is illuminated—one of the most disarming and genuine in the work of Sammy Cahn. Cahn's poetic words also shun coyness wedded to McCoy Tyner's melody with the majestic "You Taught My Heart to Sing," masterfully shaped by singer and the partnered guitarist sharing center stage as a storytelling duo.

Things flow and flower here—artfully. Is it conscious curating or coincidence that later in the program we hear the opening line of the standard "'The Very Thought of You' makes my heart sing..." or that "You Taught My Heart to Sing" includes the line "You smile and suddenly it's spring" and another song selection is "Suddenly It's Spring" (words by Johnny Burke, music by Jimmy Van Heusen, Styne's other major collaborator)? "That's how my heart is singing" is heard again in the Brazilian "Dindi," sung in English. Its opening line, "Sky—so vast is the sky" and its question about where clouds go and references to wind, etc. are neatly echoed by a richly rendered "How Deep Is the Ocean (How High Is the Sky)," that Irving Berlin litany of questions and vow to travel "the journey from here to a star." In "So Many Stars" (another Brazilian-generated gem, courtesy of Sergio Mendes), the desired effect may be diminished by the affect not being quite convincing. That is, our interpreter doesn't "read" as being lost in the stars, neither awed nor overwhelmed, when asking questions in Marilyn and Alan Bergman's lyric ("Which one to choose? Which way to go?"). In "Soul Eyes," we hear "How is one to know which way to go?," and while Ms. Rey comes off as someone who seems to have an inner GPS about life, we "get" the more generalized observations, and it helps that it's stated in the third person.

Drummer Tony Jefferson and percussionist Daniel Sadownick—percolating or gently propulsive—are the fine fourth and fifth elements. Self-indulgence is taboo. While tracks tend to clock in at generous timings of more than four minutes, they never seem drawn out. Like the drawing on the outside of the album, and the small-sized band, lines are not wasted and there's "just enough" to present a perfect picture.

- Rob Lester


Improvijazzation Nation

Ellynne Rey – A LITTLE BIT OF MOONLIGHT:  If you aren’t happy after listening to Ellynne’s too-cool vocals on the opener, “Make Someone Happy“… you never will be!  She has stellar players behind her (Paul beaudry on bass, Gene Bertoncini on guitar, Tony Jefferson doing drums, Bennett Paster on piano and Daniel Sadownick doing percussion), and the recording is superb.  Tunes like the laid-back “Dindi” will capture your heart and have you humming right along.  My personal favorite of the fifteen songs offered up for your listening pleasure is Mal Waldron’s “Soul Eyes“… the timing was perfect, and you can hear Ellynne’s sultry skill shining through on every note (of course, with that many tracks, you may find a different track that’s your favorite – totally up to you).  I give Ellynne and her high-energy players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, especially for listeners who demand perfection… “EQ” (energy quotient) rating is 4.98.

Los Angeles Jazz Scene

Ellynne Rey, who was born in Connecticut and is based in New York, is particularly masterful at singing ballads in intimate settings; her renditions are often touching. On A Little Bit Of Moonlight, her voice is especially haunting and effective on such numbers as “Soul Eyes,” “You Taught My Heart To Sing,” “Ruby My Dear” and “Invitation.” She is joined by up to five musicians (including pianist Bennett Paster, bassist Paul Beaudry, drummer Tony Jefferson and percussionist Daniel Sadownick) but it is her interplay with guitarist Gene Bertoncini that is most memorable. Ellynne Rey is well worth discovering; her new CD is available from


Potrebbe sembrare come una banale raccolta di standards, una delle tante fatte dalle cantanti jazz in Europa oppure in USA. Poi un ascolto attento di questa fatica discografica di Ellynne Rey permete di sintonizzarsi con una voce che ha la fantasia e l´audacia per fare di queste canzoni qualcosa di nuovo insieme a due  formazioni costituite da musicisti da anni in contatto con questo tipo di materiale e quindi capaci di estrarne qualcosa di nuovo. Ad esempio Dindi famosa canzone di Antonio Carlos Jobim qui acquista un trattamento rivitalizzante in cui il pianista Bennet Paster ha un importante ruolo. Bravo anche sulla famosa Soul Eyes di Mal Waldron, interpretata in modo più drammatico. Sa sempre dove mettere gli accenti per creare quelle atmosfere che Ellyne Rey permea della sua voce sensuale e calorosa. A volte si presenta quasi come una lady crooner, sulla via indicata da un Tony Bennett, sa raccontare  le sue storie nelle canzoni affrontate e sorprendere il pubblico abituato al genere. How Deep is the Ocean è affrontato in duo insieme alle corde della chitarra acustica di Gene Bertoncini. Un numero da cool jazzmesso all´interno della scaletta che prende l´attenzione per la raffinatezza esecutiva. Ai due si aggiunge il contrabbasso di Paul Beaudry su You Taught my Heart To SingRuby My Deari Fall In Love Too EasilyBlue in Green e What a Little Moonlight Can Do.  Sono dei momenti piuttosto tranquilli dell´album, in cui l´attenzione si restringe sui tre, splendidi nella loro perfromance. Subito dopo con My One and Only Love la ritmica al completo riparte per un´altra esecuzione mozzafiato: swing, riarmonizzazione ed ancora swing, tutto quello che ci vuole per dare una nuova veste a questo standard, perfettamente realizzato. Il batterista Tony Jefferson ha un ruolo importante con il suo drumming riservato e discreto. Besame Mucho vede la sezione ritmica alle prese con dei ritmi sudamericani, compito risolto benissimo, lei canta prima in spagnolo e alla fine in inglese, in mezzo l´intervento del pianoforte. Ellynne Rey ed i suoi standards raccontano storie d´amore sempre attuali che raccontate insieme ai due gruppi formano una specie di suite sulla quale fra un drink e l´altro e luci soffuse si ritorna sempre volentieri.

Radio Adelaide (Adelaide, Australia)

This is a lovely CD!
Great voice and a great quintet backing her.
The tracks are well chosen and very appropriate with regards to the album title.
The music will be featured in my playlists to come.
Again, thank you very much for this great CD!
Peter Kuller - Radio Adelaide - Australia

In Tune International

Ellynne Rey offers much more than meets the ear in this exceptional 15-song collection. Sweet as sugar! Yes it’s almost fattening just to listen to her. The brilliant accompaniment by five-musicians almost overwhelms her vocal powers. “Dindi” (Jobim), along with its familiar romantic verse, is cooed with sheer delight as she extends many of the notes in all the right places. Her vocal training really comes into play here.  “How Deep Is The Ocean” (Berlin) has the support of Gene Bertoncini’s amazing guitar. Together they weave a most delicate rewarding work of art. Listening to “I Fall In Love Too Easily” (Styne/Cahn) makes one wonder why more females haven’t sung this Sinatra favorite. Gene’s guitar again surrounds Ellynne in this most painful heart wrenching harmonious take. The mysteriously familiar “Invitation” (Kaper/Webster) contains a most rewarding reading here. Bennett Paster joins her on piano. He again joins Ms. Rey on “Suddenly It’s Spring” (Burke/Van Heusen) usually presented as a romantic ballad is here given a speedy almost flash like rendition as Ellynne adds her take to the long lasting brand new meaning of this standard. The title song (Woods) contains a splendid duet with her bass player Paul Beaudry. They swing the daylights out of this usually very square ditty. Like this entire cd it’s as fresh and modern as can be. 


Contemporary Fusion Reviews

Ultra hip groovy jazz vocals Ellynne Rey – THE BIRDSONGS PROJECT:  It’s been a while since I reviewed this young lady’s ultra hip groovy jazz vocals in issue #149, but her appeal is eternal, and the new release is even “hipper” than the earlier album. 

In keeping with the theme of the album, the opener is “Conversation With A Snowy Owl“, which is the most dynamite dialogue you’ll ever hear with a bird, thanks to Ellynne’s excellent abilities on the scat pieces… like I said, ultra-cool!

An excellent cast of players makes tunes like the mighty mellow “Song To A Seagull” shimmer with lively light… Bennett Paster-piano; organ, Freddie Bryant-guitars Joel Frahm-tenor sax; ocarina, Alex Norris-trumpet; flugelhorn, Anthony Pinciotti-drums, Joe Strasser-drums, Jacquelene Acevedo-cajon & ass. percussion all keep the mood as “morning” as it should be on this fine song.

Ellynne’s creativity just shines on songs like the jumpin’ closer, “Blackbird“… I can tell you right now, you have never heard a more unique rendition of this superb classic… she OWNS this one, to be sure… Freddie’s guitar leads are absolute scorchers!

It was with absolute ease that I picked my personal favorite of the even-dozen delights Ellynne offers up… her performance of Hoagy’s “Baltimore Oriole” is just superb, and the organ that support the piece (as well as the rest of the instruments) SMOKES it, folks!

I give Ellynne and her players a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) score of 4.99…

Making a Scene

Jazz vocalist Ellynne Rey delivers this interesting project of bird songs by a wide array of writers including Blossom Dearie, Joni Mitchell, Hoagy Carmichael, Abbey Lincoln, Franz Schubert, and the Beatles. Looking at that list, you could likely guess some of the songs, but you might be wrong on some too. She’s assembled a strong sextet led by her longtime associate pianist/organist Bennett Paster, whose own solo album Indivisiblewas covered on these pages just last week.  Freddie Bryant (guitar), Marcus McLaurine (bass),  Alex Norris (trumpet), Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone), and guest Jacquelene Acevedo (percussion) form the unit along with alternating drummers Anthony Pinciotti and Joe Strasser.

You could say, no pun intended, that this project comes naturally to Rey, who is a devoted bird watcher and photographer. She says in the liners, “The Birdsongs Project began late last spring, after a spate of unusual “life” bird sightings and striking rarities like the Snowy Owl. Avid birdwatchers, such as myself, live for such things. I called my friend and wonderful pianist, Bennett Paster. I told him that I wanted to make a new recording with him and had to have a bird theme. A few weeks later, I found myself in Brooklyn, by Bennett’s fantastic Steinway, exploring songs on a list I had compiled of songs featuring birds. This evolved into The Birdsongs Project.”

Rey composed the opening “Conversation with a Snowy Owl,” a jazz waltz with insightful lyrics and scat singing, as she captures the joy she felt having observed them for the first time. Norris provides a soaring trumpet solo. She also wrote English lyrics to “The Crow,” (die Krahe), a transformation of a classic melody by Schubert, and she appends Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology,” a requisite tune for the project,  where she and Frahm have a spirited dialogue, with “Bluejay and Cat,” her takeoff on “How High the Moon.”

Guitarist Bryant is the featured soloist across a samba groove on Rey’s interpretation of the rather obscure Blossom Dearie’s “I Thought I Heard a Hummingbird.” She faithfully renders Carmichael’s standard “Skylark” but makes Joni Mitchell’s “Song to a Seagull” barely recognizable. At its beginning, and again on “Blackbird” Frahm plays a little known ocarina, a vessel flute with four to 12 finger holes to create bird sounds. Frahm also plays an aggressive tenor solo on “Song to a Seagull” and for his contributions here and elsewhere is a clear standout in this sextet, “Flamingo” being another outstanding example.

Paster and Bryant drive the mid-tempo “Shadow of Your Smile” before settling into the ballad “The Peacocks” which is perhaps Rey’s best vocal performance, especially in the high register. Paster takes the organ for Carmichael’s “Baltimore Oriole,” another one featuring soulful tenor sax from Frahm. Rey displays her vocal nuances on Abbey Lincoln’s ballad  “Bird Alone” accompanied by Paster’s shimmering piano and McLaurine’s standup sensitive bass solo. “Blackbird,” never considered a rousing tune, is transformed into one with several inventive changes, some that are rollicking, by Rey and the sextet, taking the disc to a joyous conclusion.

This is only Rey’s second CD and the first listen for this writer. She’s impressive and bound to gain more well-deserved recognition. This one has plenty of shining moments.

J W Vibe


A renowned performer throughout New England and NYC, Ellynne Rey’s fascinating new collection is one of the few albums in jazz history that we can say is “for the birds” and mean it as a compliment. The Birdsongs Project doesn’t simply tap into her passions for birdwatching and photography (with some of her breathtaking images in the packaging), it celebrates life and jazz through beautifully rendered, alternately exquisite and whimsical flights of fancy through a wide expanse of jazz, pop and even classical history. 

One might expect a veteran jazz singer to find bird-loving joy in songs by Blossom Dearie (“I Thought I Heard A Hummingbird”), Hoagy Carmichael (“Baltimore Oriole” “Skylark”), Abbey Lincoln (“Bird Alone”) and Charlie Parker (“Ornithology,” which includes her clever original scat narrative “The Bluejay & The Cat”). A supple, rangy vocalist like Rey would naturally gravitate to the catalogs of Joni Mitchell (“Song to a Seagull”) and The Beatles (“Blackbird”).

Yet the collection’s piece de resistance finds her going beyond those realms and refashioning Schubert’s plucky “Die Krahe” into an observational masterpiece called “The Crow” – with vocal gymnastics by Rey and piano runs by co-producer Bennett Paster that are the musical equivalent of an unpredictable, darting and swooshing bird in flight. If you like jazz and birds, this album will feel transcendently fulfilling. If you like one or the other, you’ll still be very intrigued and deeply rewarded.    

Take Effect Reviews

Listen to The Birdsongs Project

A bird enthusiast and accomplished vocalist and lyricist, Ellynne Rey is in great company here as she reworks songs about our feathered friends from legends like Joni Mitchell and The Beatles, as well as tossing in some originals, too. 

“Conversations With A Snowy Owl” starts the listen with bright vocals from Rey and jazz-waltz fueled, light instrumentation, before “I Thought I Heard A Hummingbird” recruits rhythmic strings and bursting horns into an elegant setting. Elsewhere, “Skylark” brings soothing tambourine to a lounge jazz atmosphere, while “The Shadow Of Your Tumble” offers tumbling keys and a swift pace on a lively, frisky tune.

The second half of the album offers the busy and lush, saxophone friendly “Baltimore Oriole”, the vocally expressive “Bird Alone”, which sits closer to ballad territory, and the soft and agile “Flamingo”. The listen exits on “Blackbird”, an upbeat and playful interpretation that soars with timeless melody and irresistible charm while bluesy guitars punctuate the mood. 

Those in tune with nature and who appreciate easy going jazz sounds will find much to enjoy here, as Rey and company bring quirky and creative ideas to this really adorable and accomplished record.  

Travels well with: Carmen McRae- Can’t Hide Love;  Dianne Reeves- Bridges

Hot House Magazine

Talkin Broadway


It's a fortuitous fact that vocalist Ellynne Rey happens to be a birdwatcher/admirer because it has inspired her to record a full album of songs about her fine-feathered friends who raise their voices in song—as she does so attractively herself. The collection of a dozen eclectic pieces makes for a relaxed listen fused with sensitive singing with tasteful, warm accompaniment of a band featuring simpatico keyboardist Bennett Paster, who also graced Rey's prior recording reviewed in this column five years ago (and serves as co-producer with her here).

The subject matter of this mellow mix reminds me of happily listening to another jazz artist's offering (the women's names are even similar): the great Carmen McRae's Birds of a Feather. There's a six-decade spread between these releases, but some songs remain classics, and Rey and McRae chose three of the same ones: "Flamingo" and two numbers co-written by Hoagy Carmichael, "Baltimore Oriole" and "Skylark." It's a revisit to "Skylark" by the performer who recorded it on her early Daydream back when she was billed as Ellynne Plotnick. With numerous other bird-related possibilities having been written in intervening years, newer options came to the fore, notably several from singer-songwriters which nevertheless notably get stamped with originality here: Abbey Lincoln's "Bird Alone"; Paul McCartney's "Blackbird"; Joni Mitchell's "Song to a Seagull"; Blossom Dearie's "I Thought I Heard a Hummingbird." And there are fine contributions by Ellynne herself. Another winner is "The Shadow of Your Smile," the Grammy and Oscar-winning theme from the film The Sandpiper, whose verse works in the sole mention of that named bird (lyric to Johnny Mandel's melody by Paul Francis Webster, also Carmichael's collaborator on "Baltimore Oriole").

Communing with winged creatures and imbuing them with wisdom, especially in profusion, could cloy or become coy. For a moment at one point what flashed in my head was a line from the script of Into the Woods where Little Red Ridinghood skeptically says to Cinderella: "You talk to birds?!?" But no worries here. Although Ellynne Rey does often come off as super-sensitive and convincing as someone ready, willing and able to lend an especially attentive ear and eye to these creatures, addressing them directly, I buy into it. In those questions asked by Johnny Mercer's "Skylark" lyric ("Skylark, have you anything to say to me?/ Can you tell me where my love can be?"), mood isn't sentimental and the tempo has some oomph. Indeed, that lark could have trouble getting in a word edgewise. Likewise, if you assume the title of the singer's original offering "Conversations with a Snowy Owl" will appeal only to the most dedicated birdwatcher or unhinged aviary visitor, give it a chance. It is actually both sweet and compelling.

Thankfully, the instrumentation does not get cheap or obvious with approximations of bird sounds. Percussion percolates. But the musicians do get some lengthy solos that allot a lot of time for moody reflection. Joel Frahm's sax, which can be assertive or subtle, and Freddie Bryant's guitar are especially welcome. Most of the tracks are on the longer side, but meandering or over-stayed welcomes are not the result when things are this mesmerizing as a result of the laser-beamed focus that makes one give in and give rapt attention. And there's such variety as things progress—from an art song vibe to the standards to classical (Franz Schubert lieder with a beat and Rey's English words about "The Crow") to out-and-out jazz (Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" revamped with Rey adding scat and hip vocalese with her own storytelling words). Vocally there are many colors, too, with high and low tones that swirl and swoop or stay the course for some straight, less ornamented paths.

Ellynne Rey will make an appearance in midtown Manhattan with this material on July 11, 2019, at Club Bonafide. It's a fairly rare flight for this talented jazz bird who basically nests in Connecticut. 


Roots Report

Label: Self-Release

Genres: Jazz

Styles: Jazz 

Visit Artist/Band WebsiteWritten by Joe Ross
June 28, 2019 - 7:08pm EDT

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Connecticut-based jazz singer/composer Ellynne Rey follows up on her 2014 release “A Little Bit of Moonlight” with a thematic “The Birdsongs Project.” Assembling some of New York’s most sought after session musicians, she and co-producer/pianist Bennett Paster lead us on a rewarding flight of whimsical fancy as she pays tribute to our feathery friends. Whether conversing with a snowy owl or singing to a seagull, she’s given us a very pleasant (or should I say ‘phea-sant’) listen. The enchanting set exudes charm, originality and joy.  Much like flighty birds themselves, the music conveys breezy feelings of freedom, independence and personality. Relaxed sentiments like “I’d like to ruffle his plumage” (in Hoagy Carmichael’s “Baltimore Oriole”) contrast with the vocalist chirping scat to Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology” or presenting self-penned vocalese over the chordal progressions of “How High The Moon” (in “The Bluejay & The Cat”).  “The Crow” incorporates Rey’s unique lyrics written for Franz Schubert's “Die Krahe.” Their arrangement of Lennon & McCartney’s “Blackbird” is stellar. As I like the beauty of birds and the emotional flair of well-arranged jazz, I like this album.  (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)                   

Jersey Jazz

Vocalist ELLYNNE REY’s imaginative undertaking, The Birdsongs Project is an album of songs about or inspired by birds.  An avowed birdwatcher and photographer, Rey has chosen a program of twelve selections, including familiarities like “Skylark,” Joni Mitchell’s “Song to a Seagull,” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” the theme from The Sandpiper, “Baltimore Oriole,” “Flamingo” and the Lennon/McCartney tune, “Blackbird.”  Other highlights are her terrific reading of Norma Winstone’s lyrics to the Jimmy Rowles jazz classic, “The Peacocks,” and her pairing of Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology,” based on “How High the Moon,” changes with her own “The Bluejay & The Cat” based on the same changes, with some tasty tenor work from Joel Frahm.  The other players on the album are Bennett Paster on piano and organ, Freddie Bryant on guitar, Alex Norris on trumpet and flugelhorn, Anthony Pinciotti or Joe Strasser on drums and Jacqueline Acevedo on cajon and assorted percussion.  Rey has succeeded in producing an album that is consistently interesting, and well sung