Molly Ryan’s musical travelogue Let’s Fly Away is a jewel. The individual selections on the CD, all quite excellent, describe a dramatic trajectory within the travel theme to create a delightful, swinging musical revue.
Molly and her husband, reedman/arranger Dan Levinson, have taken infinite pains to ensure that Let’s Fly Away is superb in every possible way, a collaborative masterpiece. An unprecedented level of excellence has been achieved in this CD. The hand-picked tunes (artfully arranged by Levinson and Dan Barrett) fit perfectly into the motif and advance the story.
An all-star cast of the finest jazz musicians have been brought together for this project: Bria Skonberg (who vocalizes with Molly on The Road to Morocco), Randy Reinhart, Adrien Chevalier, John Reynolds, Joel Forbes, Mike Weatherly, Kevin Dorn, and piano legends Mark Shane and Dick Hyman. The booklet and case designed by illustrator Joe Busam (with additional graphics by Danielle Bennignus) provide a gorgeous setting for this gem.
And then there’s Molly Ryan’s own astonishing vocal instrument. By turns sweet (Song of the Wanderer) and sexy (Let’s Fly Away) and heartbreaking (Trav’lin’ All Alone), Molly sings with passion and clarity—and with perfect phrasing and intonation—that proclaim her the full peer of the best singers of the past and present.
The great Dick Hyman, who has nearly six decades on Molly Ryan, contributes profoundly to the delight of Let’s Fly Away, especially in the last number, Anywhere I Wander. Dick and Molly are not just equals here, they’re contemporaries. They don’t forget to swing even as they move us to tears.
As an added treat, Molly Ryan has produced a marvelously clever video of Beyond the Blue Horizon in connection with the release of the album. At the 3:18 mark on the video, there’s a cameo appearance of Molly’s father, Richard Ryan, reading the May 2015 issue of The American Rag, our predecessor paper. We’re famous!