I almost forgot to mention that Karrin Allyson, one of my very favorite jazz singers, is appearing through September 5 at Le Jazz au Bar, New York’s newest high-end nightclub. She’s touring in support of her latest CD, Wild for You, which contains subtly reworked jazz interpretations of 13 songs by Elton John, Carole King, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carly Simon, and Cat Stevens–the AM-radio music Allyson grew up on in the days before she discovered and embraced jazz. Like everything she does, it’s purest pleasure.
Here’s part of what I wrote in the Washington Post about her last album, In Blue:
Outside of moving from Kansas City to Manhattan a couple of years ago, Allyson (whose first name is pronounced KAH-rin) has consistently refused to play by The Rules. Yes, she’s good-looking, but she doesn’t glam up for gigs or pretend to be fresh out of college. She’s a fully grown woman who has been making records her way for a decade now, singing what she likes and working with players she knows, shimmying up the greasy pole of renown inch by inch. The two Grammy nominations she received for last year’s “Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane” suggest that the rest of the world is finally starting to catch up with her–and about time, too.
Allyson has a slender, smallish voice, precisely focused and pleasingly rough around the edges, whose distinctive timbre is at once plaintive and engaging. You can tell she knows all about life’s ups and downs, and this album is more about the latter than the former. Don’t be misled by the title, though, for “In Blue” isn’t an all-blues program. As always, Allyson has cast her net far more widely and imaginatively, choosing 13 songs that range in tone from the sophisticated sorrow of Bobby Troup’s “The Meaning of the Blues” to the no-nonsense earthiness of “Evil Gal Blues,” an old Dinah Washington specialty (“I’ll burn you like a candle, honey, I’m gonna burn you at both ends”). In between these two stylistic bookends is plenty of room for every other imaginable shade of blue, including a pair of dark-hued standards, “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and “Angel Eyes,” that fit the prevailing mood perfectly.
Go–and if you’re there on Saturday, look for me.