Karrin Allyson at Birdland - New York City Article

Karrin Allyson at Birdland

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Karrin Allyson at Birdland

Apr 25, 2018

Karrin Allyson
315 W 44th Street, (212) 581-3080
Through Saturday, April 28

It turns out that Karrin Allyson is the kind of girl who just can’t say no to any good song that’s out there. The veteran jazz vocalist started her opening set at Birdland with Dizzy Gillespie (“Con Alma”) and finished with Joni Mitchell (“Blue Motel Room”). In between she showed us how, although she’s never been anything like an avant-gardist (thank God), she’s spent much of her career expanding the repertoire and with it the possibilities for jazz singers. Her two most notable albums have been Footprints (2006) in which she sings new lyrics to 13 modern jazz standards that never had words previously, and her latest, Many a New Day (2015), in which she takes an iconic body of theatre music, the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, previously largely neglected by the jazz community, and “opens it up,” ie, makes it fair game for her fellow singers. Hard as it may be to believe, the baby-faced and apple-cheeked Ms. Allyson has been recording and touring nationally for over 25 years now, and her work has always combined the best of youthful optimism with a hard-won maturity, and a larger understanding that allows innocence and experience to freely coexist. Her voice itself, with it’s Missouri tinge, also allows her to tastefully tackle both bebop and folk-oriented singer-songwriters on a level playing field. (It also happens to ideally suit Rodgers and Hammerstein’s songs of Oklahoma and elsewhere in the midwest, most of which she sang accompanying herself sparsely and eloquently on the piano.) By the end of her Tuesday night set, Ms. Allyson also made it clear that she was thinking rather literally about the concept of journeying from one geographical area of the music to another, and it was up to us to decide if we wanted to travel home in a “Big Yellow Taxi” or a “Surrey With the Fringe on Top.”

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Author: Will Friedwald
Photography by: STEPHEN SOROKOFF

Author: Will Friedwald

Will Friedwald writes about music and popular culture for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, VANITY FAIR and PLAYBOY magazine and reviews current shows for THE CITIVIEW NEW YORK. He also is the author of nine books, including the award-winning A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS, SINATRA: THE SONG IS YOU, STARDUST MELODIES, TONY BENNETT: THE GOOD LIFE, LOONEY TUNES & MERRIE MELODIES, and JAZZ SINGING. He has written over 600 liner notes for compact discs, received ten Grammy nominations, and appears frequently on television and other documentaries. He is also a consultant and curator for Apple Music.

New Books:

THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP VOCAL ALBUMS (Pantheon Books / Random House, November 2017)