Karrin Allyson Wed. October 18, 2006
Karrin Alysson: Elegant, Intelligent and Sounding Great
By Glen Creason
Music pundits would agree that Karrin Allyson is one of the very best Jazz singers in the land without hesitation. Her liquid-velvet voice can handle any kind of style and her range seems limitless, moving from introspective ballads to amazing vocalese as quickly as SUVs change lanes on the nearby 91 freeway. Despite a superb jazz trio behind her I do believe she could sing fast food jingles accompanied by glockenspiel with maracas and sound fabulous. This little lady from Kansas City has most certainly arrived and she seems to be right in her prime as the lucky at Cerritos found at a mid-week show in the Sierra Room. Ms. Allyson is easy-going on stage until she wraps her pipes around the fine and eclectic compositions of great songwriters obviously chosen by someone with impeccable taste and a broad knowledge of the art form. She also chose the strong trio on stage with her to achieve a certain, spare but pristine sound. Todd Strait on drums with Tom Warrington on bass gave the lady a perfect platform to stand on but guitarist Larry Koonse provided a precise counterpoint to the slight rasp of character in the lady’s vocals with his strummed jazz technique.
The clubby intimacy of the packed room seemed just right for the program chosen on this night which began with a free and swinging “Let’s Fall in Love” from the Harold Arlen treasure chest then went south to Brazil for “O Barinquinho” that featured perfect Portuguese. There was more from way south of the border later in “O Pato,” a samba that balanced Cole Porters “Night and Day” in a version that put meat on the bones of the classic. As was the case in all the music on this night there was absolutely no filler or fluff. Allyson obviously loves this music and seems bound to get the most out of every lyric. The set bounced from Mose Allison’s wonderful “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” to Blossom Dearie’s quirky but delicious “Bye Bye Country Boy” that had a naughty but satisfying slant. Still the high points came, as they did all night, from Karrin Allyson’s newest release “Footprints” with songs by Nat Adderley, (Never Say Yes), Dizzy Gillespie (Con Alma) and the wise and powerful “Long As You’re
Living” by Oscar Brown Jr. Typical of the evening the songs have both melody and words to remember.
After an extended intermission Ms. Allyson woke the big crowd up with the jazz-blues of Bobby Timmons-Jon Hendrix’s Moanin’ which she spiced heavily with scat she seems to have sharpened to a point in working with the master Hendrix. There was also the homage to other masters in “How Long Has This Been Going On” and Wes Montgomery’s “West Coast Blues.”
Also the reading of Hank Mobley’s romantic “The Turnaround” just left you thinking wistfully of the magical moments that are possible with music. However the twin glories of Wayne Shorter’s “Follow the Footprints” and a solo with piano of “Live for Life” from the French film were nothing short of masterpieces. When the lady scatted “That’s All” as her finale she did so with many sighs from the audience who spent a goodly time around the CD table later grabbing up copies of “Footprints.”