September 8, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 36
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Saturday, Dec 05, 2020



Where It's At
Karrin Allyson's impeccable vocals on display at Jazz Alley
by Lorelei Quenzer - SGN A&E Writer

Karrin Allyson

Tuesday- Sunday, September 12-17 - visit for set times

Dimitriou's Jazz Alley - For reservations call (206) 441-9729 / $22.50-$24.50

Audiences have high expectations from Karrin Allyson: choice songs, precision scat, and impeccable vocals. There's a reason for this. The Grammy-nominated Allyson is so good she's been compared to the likes of jazz greats Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn. If the songs she'll sing at Jazz Alley sound familiar, there's a reason for that, too. Allyson's recent release, Footprints, is a collection of thirteen instrumental tracks from the 50s and 60s to which she's added her own vocalese stamp. "As a singer, I feel very influenced by instrumentalists and by many classic instrumental songs," says Allyson. "It's tricky to put lyrics to the great, iconic tunes, because you want to do them justice."

Allyson caught the jazz bug in college, when she first was turned on to Nancy Wilson, Carmen McRae and Thelonious Monk. She "studied" jazz and started to apply what she was learning at local jam sessions. "I got hit pretty hard," she says. "I loved the beautiful stories in those songs, but quickly realized how exciting it was to be able to improvise and swing to vary tunes and suit your own style." Yes, she can swing; she can also sing a ballad with subtlety and warmth, and when she sings a song that's been done a hundred times she finds a way to make it fresh and mark it as her own.

What I really admire - and the reason you'll find me in the audience - is that Allyson's style is devoid of mannerism. She won't climb over one note to get to the next, or add an unnecessary curlicue. She's ambitious without appearing to show off; maybe that's why hearing her in person will be so satisfying. Band members include Bruce Barth (piano), Rod Fleeman (Guitar), Jeff Johnson (bass) and Todd Strait (drums). If you've already picked up Footprints, make your reservations for Friday or Saturday night, as guest vocalist Nancy King will join Allyson on stage.

Pre-concert CD recommendation: Footprints, featuring "A Long Way To Go (Equinox)," "Strollin'" and "Life is a Groove (Jordu)."

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