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  1. Moon River

Reluctant no more, Kiki Ebsen clicked the heels of her ruby red shoes three times and set off on the yellow brick road armed with the Great American songbook, Broadway show tunes and songs from Hollywood’s Golden Era that are connected to the career of her celebrity father, Buddy Ebsen. In September, the singer-songwriter-keyboardist released the David Mann-produced “Scarecrow Sessions” on her Painted Pony Media label, a classy offering being warmly received by jazz radio programmers and journalists across the nation charmed by the elegant acoustic jazz recording, the sentimentality that inspired it and a sprinkling of Tinseltown stardust.

Initially, Kiki Ebsen dug her heels in defiantly at her father’s insistence that she learn to sing jazz standards, instead preferring to follow her own path by writing her own material and singing and playing with pop, rock and R&B royalty. Years after Buddy’s passing, Kiki smartly mustered the courage to go out on a limb in order to honor his wishes, which she ably does with heart on the twelve songs, including “Missing You,” a touching beauty co-penned by Buddy unearthed while Kiki was foraging through a box of his old scripts and songbooks. One of those scripts was from “The Wizard of Oz.” Buddy was originally cast to play the Scarecrow, but agreed to play the Tin Man instead. However, metallic particles from the costume and the aluminum makeup covering his hands, neck and face provoked a toxic reaction when it seeped into his lungs causing the actor to be hospitalized for several days where he required the aid of a respirator in order to breathe, leaving him unfit to play the part. In addition to recording “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” and “If I Only Had A Brain” from the iconic feature - the latter being the first single presently collecting radio spins at stations across the U.S. - Kiki also selected gems from Buddy’s celebrated film roles in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” with Audrey Hepburn (“Moon River”), “Captain January” with Shirley Temple (“At The Codfish Ball”), and “Banjo On My Knee” with Joel McCrea and Barbara Stanwyck (“St. Louis Blues”).

The imaginative artistry and high-level musicianship make “Scarecrow Sessions” more than just a delightful stroll down memory lane. Ebsen’s initial endeavor into jazz shines brightly on its own merits. Possessing grace and an invitingly expressive voice, Ebsen recorded in New York City not far from her father’s environs when he was on Broadway and a Vaudevillian song and dance man. She was joined in the studio by some of the locale’s finest players including Chuck Loeb (electric and acoustic guitars), John Patitucci (acoustic and electric bass), Henry Hey (piano and organ), Clint de Ganon (drums) and Mann on saxophone and flute.