Vocalist Ronnie Wells, a long-time favorite on the local scene, will be taking her act to Europe in July as vocalist for the Widespread Jazz Orchestra.

In the late '70s, Wells could often be heard at the Top of the Foolery, and one of the musicians who worked with her was drummer Charles Brogham. Brogham eventually moved to New York and several years ago joined Widespread, the swing-and-jump specialist group that has made Washington one of its prime bases. "They were approached by Columbia Records to do an album and Columbia wanted a vocal on it, so Charles recommended me. I went up for one day to New York and we jammed for a while to see how we felt with one another," Wells recalls.

It must have felt good, because Widespread ended up asking Wells to do three tunes. In support of the "Paris Blues" album (it'll be out on May 1), Wells will be the featured vocalist with Widespread for the next few months; the group performs at Blues Alley this afternoon at 1 and 3 p.m.

"I feel singing with a band is more of a show-type thing," she says. "When you work with a trio or smaller groups . . . what you present to the audience is more intimate. I like them both and it's a really good experience for me, working with such great musicians."