Thursday, November 5, 2009

Karrin Allyson: By Request

Concord Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 11.05.09
Buy CD: By Request

I started to type “Vocalist Karrin Allyson” and changed my mind; Allyson is much more that just a vocalist. She's a three-time Grammy-nominated artist who composes and arranges, writes lyrics, plays piano and sings ... and does all these tasks marvelously.

Allyson was born and raised in Kansas City, where she spent her early years working; she finally moved to New York City about a decade ago. After a self-released debut CD, she was signed by Concord Records, which has been responsible for all subsequent releases, including a re-issue of that first album.

By Request is a retrospective of her past 15 years; the album contains songs that have been “most requested” by fans during her live performances. She's capable of singing everything and anything: ballads, blues, “roots music,” Great American Songbook classics, straight-ahead and Latin jazz. Everything succumbs to her talent.

Language is no barrier, as well; she uses English, French and Portuguese in this release. As for scatting, her burning cover of “Cherokee” will take your breath away.

Another key to Allyson's success is her ability to attract stellar jazz artists to her groups. Pianists Paul Smith and Mulgrew Miller, and bassists John Patitucci and Bob Bowman, are just a few of the names who have joined lesser-known but equally capable musicians.

Most important, however is her innate talent; the lady is, without doubt, one of our top jazz vocalists. Her voice, phrasing and range are exceptional.

And my, does she swing!

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