Apr 22, 2011
Karrin Allyson is one of my favorite singers. She has the uncanny ability to choose from among the myriad of songs available to her and make selections that produce albums that are greater than the sum of their songs. Rather than simply pick from the Great American Songbook, she has devoted whole albums to songs by Brazilian and French writers, an album of blues, and a reinterpretation of the music from John Coltrane’s Ballads album. Along with possessing a knock-out voice, she is an accomplished pianist and lyric writer. She is, in short, the whole package.
He latest CD, ‘Round Midnight, has an after hours vibe to it, courtesy of sparse arrangements, smoky vocals, and some outstanding horn work by guest Bob Sheppard. The CD will be released on May 2, and Karrin is touring to support the release, including an appearance as part of the Blue Note Jazz Benefit for Japan. Among those who performed on April 18 at the Highline Ballroom in New York wereRenée Fleming, Madeleine Peyroux, Joe Lovano, Regina Carter, Don Byron, Paquito D'Rivera, Sonny Fortune, Antonio Hart, Eldar Djangirov, and Janis Siegel. Donations may still be made through Direct Relief International.
I spoke with Karrin as she readied herself for the performance, rehearsing in her Western Massachusetts home. We talked about the new album, and Podcast 215 features that interview, along with selections from the soon-to-be released CD, including:
Karrin Allyson – “Turn Out the Stars” from ‘Round Midnight. A rarely performed vocal version of a song closely associated with late pianist Bill Evans. The band on this track, and the rest of the album includes Ms. Allyson on keyboards (piano and Electric Rhodes), Rod Fleeman on guitar, Ed Howard on bass, and Matt Wilson on drums, with guest appearances from harmonicist Randy Weinstein and Bob Sheppard on woodwinds.
Karrin Allyson – “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most” from ‘Round Midnight. Karrin finally found an arrangement of this classic tune that she felt worked for her, picking and choosing the verses to include. A moving take on a standard.
Karrin Allyson – Title Track from ‘Round Midnight. It’s hard to believe it took her this long to record this Thelonious Monk song, after singing it on stage off and on for years. Perhaps the most moving of all the CD tracks, at the suggestion of guitarist Fleemon, it’s a duet between her and bassist Howard. The mood is late night, with a tinge of melancholy.
Bob Sheppard – “Fast Company” from Close Your Eyes. “Shepp” certainly keeps some fast company, being the sax player of choice for artists from Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. His latest solo CD has him backed up buy a who’s who of (mostly West Coast) jazz session musicians, including Antonio Sanchez on drums, Alan Pasqua and John Beasley on piano & organ, Larry Koonse on guitar, Alex Sipiagen on trumpet & flugelhorn, Gabe Noel on bass and Walter Rodriguez on percussion. Bob is currently on tour in Italy, and will return to California around Easter time.