When vocalist Karrin Allyson steps to the microphone, you can’t predict what style or language she’ll be performing in. The best part is, it doesn’t matter.
Allyson is referred to as a jazz vocalist, and has climbed to the pinnacle of the genre since recording her debut album, I Didn’t Know About You, in 1992. She is now regarded among the top vocalists in jazz. Releasing her 13th album last year, Allyson has put together a career that has brought her to top stages around the world, performing at major jazz festivals in Brazil, Japan, Australia and Europe, as well as the most legendary venues in the United States, including regular appearances at New York’s Blue Note and Birdland. Along the way, Allyson has garnered four Grammy Award nominations, most recently for her 2012 album ‘Round Midnight.
Now a resident of New York City, Allyson makes frequent stops in New England, and is likely a familiar vocalist for listeners to regional radio jazz shows. Having grown up in Kansas, with a stint as a teenager in San Francisco, Allyson honed her chops on the Great American Songbook and relaxes into her comfort zone on the songs of Gershwin and Porter. But she slips just as deftly into the jazz sounds of Duke, Monk and Miles. And she might be in a blues mood, or she may slide into bossa nova or samba or perhaps soft or folk rock.
Whether she’s singing in English, French, Portuguese, Italian or Spanish, it becomes an intimate experience for those in her audience, as if it’s just she and the listener. Allyson is so comfortable with her material that it always sounds spontaneous, particularly during her playful repartee with band members. She’s always having fun, and therefore, so do her audiences.
It may be partly Allyson’s background as a classical pianist that accounts for her ease negotiating jazz intervals. If she’s bopping on an up tune, she bounces about the notes like a trumpet player. If it’s a ballad, her voice massages the melody like a breathy saxophone. The audience is most often mesmerized, riveted to hear her next passage. As Gary Giddins of The Village Voice puts it: “Allyson coolly stakes her claim. She brings a timbre that is part ice and part grain—incisive, original, and emotionally convincing.”
Allyson, who sings and plays piano, will be performing with Steve Cardenas on guitar, George Kaye on acoustic bass and Todd Strait on drums.
Karrin Allyson’s appearance at the Vermont Jazz Center is sponsored by Diana Bingham with additional support from the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Hampton Inn of Brattleboro and underwritten by VPR and WFCR.
Tickets for Karrin Allyson at VJC, March 16, are $20 general admission, $15 for students with I.D. (contact VJC about educational discounts). Tickets are available at In the Moment in Brattleboro, or online at www.vtjazz.org. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line, 802-254-9088, ext. 1.
Next up at the Vermont Jazz Center: Matt Wilson, A Tribute to Attila Zoller, Saturday, April 13, 8 p.m.
A World Tour in a Single Night – Jazz Vocalist Karrin Allyson at the Vermont Jazz Center, Saturday, March 16, at 8 p.m.