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All That Jazz

Molly Ringwald delves into the great American songbook.

Ringwald's Hots: Chicago museums, cuisine and music; “I listen to a lot of jazz but I also like a lot of obscure singer-songwriters. I’m a really big fan of Spotify; that’s kind of my way of finding new music.”

Ringwald's Nots: Not properly compensating artists. “I have a rule that if I listen to a song on Spotify or Pandora more than three times,
I buy it. I try to treat others the way I would like to be treated.”

While Molly Ringwald is a famous actress who recently recorded a jazz album with prestigious label Concord, fate easily might have reversed those two roles for her, and seen her instead become a renowned jazz singer who makes the occasional foray into acting.. “I grew up singing jazz with my father’s band,” says Ringwald. (Bob Ringwald is the leader of Sacramento’s acclaimed Fulton Street Jazz Band.) “It’s something I did before I was acting.”

Those years of absorbing standards at her dad’s side culminated in her debut album, 2013’s Except Sometimes, on which Ringwald, channeling her inner chanteuse, delivers crystalline, lilting versions of classics like “I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes),” “Exactly Like You” and “I’ll Take Romance.” There are also several more obscure selections, including a jazz version of “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” in homage to the man who made her a star, late director and Chicagoan John Hughes.

“Putting a band together and singing jazz was something I always intended to do, but the opportunity just didn’t present itself,” says Ringwald, who performs at City Winery on March 19. “Then I met [collaborator] Peter Smith, and it sounded good, and one thing sort of led to another.” But isn’t it tough to be so talented at something and not have everyone know about it for so long? “No!” says Ringwald with a laugh. “It’s cooler this way. It’s like a party trick—like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could juggle and stand on your head!’”