Singer and pianist Ellyn Rucker's great pianistic skills and her sensuous voice belie her late start as a jazz performer. She started playing piano when she was eight; ten years later she was studying classical piano at Drake University. Jazz music was in her life as a teenager, but she did not start performing as a singer-pianist until 1979. In the ensuing time she was an ordinary mother, raising a family, and playing infrequently.
She was born and raised in Des Moines, but calls Denver her musical home. Though she is a fixture in Colorado, and she has made many European tours, played many festivals, and appeared in many clubs across America, her name is not well-known to the general jazz fan. Her bop and Bill Evans influenced piano can stand on its own, and her singing is top rank. Her few recordings show her music to be powerful and appealing. Ellyn Rucker is an underrated jazz musician. If she had taken up performing when she left college or lived on one of the coasts, perhaps Ellyn would have been a really big name in jazz music.
Ms. Rucker since 1987 has released some fine records as “Ellyn,” (’87) “This Heart of Mine” (’88) “Nice Work!,” (89) “Thoughts of You,” (92) these are on the Capri label. She then went with the Leisure label for “Live In New Orleans” again in ’92. Her latest release is from 2003 “Now,” on Capri.
Source: James Nadal