The word “brilliant” gets thrown around alot these days…
But for an hour plus of the real thing, don’t miss Karrin Allyson’s gig at Jardine’s tonight (two shows Tuesday, Nov 29 at 6:30 and 8:30). Great music doesn’t get much better than this.
Joined by two of KC’s best sidemen– guitarist Rod Fleeman and bass player Gerald Spaits— Allyson plays Beena’s intimate room like she owns the place. Seducing us along her soulful way, she deftly drifts from lush ballad to Parker be-bop, sensual samba to lovely, lyrical chanson. In any language–English, Portuguese, French, scat—this is world-class jazz.
Special guest Randy Weinstein, who lit up Karrin’s latest CD ‘Round Midnight” with his masterful harmonica work, adds an understated, expressive instrumental voice to the evening’s proceedings. If you think Dylan or The Boss is the be all and end all of harmonica playing, sit back and take a lesson from Mr. Weinstein. In his sure hands, you finally understand why they call it a harp (btw, Randy’s a KC native—so much jazz talent here).
There’s no drummer on this session, but it didn’t bother me—the simplicity gave the gig a much more intimate feel. Spaits’ bass lines and Rod’s rhythm guitar laid down all the backbeat required, keeping time with Allyson’s finger-popping groove (and make no mistake—the lady is definitely in charge).
Karrin didn’t repeat a tune between her two shows Monday, so I can’t be sure you’ll hear any of these numbers tonight (don’t worry—the folks who attended the early show Monday raved, too). But I can happily report that Allyson fans at the late show I attended reveled in her renditions of “Under Paris Skies,” “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most,” and Charlie Chaplin’s American songbook standard “Smile.”
Surprise guest Stan Kessler’s mellow flugelhorn textured another favorite, “Footprints.” Stan stayed on to join Karrin and the band for “Yardbird Suite,” a vocal transcription of one of the Bird’s magical solos that turned up the heat considerably (more great scatting preceded that number, when Karrin, Gerald, Rod and Randy passed around the riffs like a hash pipe on “Jordu”).
Shifting into smoky lounge leider, Karrin turned Johnny Mandel’s standard, “The Shadow of Your Smile” into more Allyson gold. On “Shadow” and the aforementioned “Smile” and “Spring…,” her piano playing was strong and self-assured. I’ve noticed that Karrin has played more and more piano on gigs I’ve had the good fortune to enjoy. The instrument suits her; whether singing along with her right hand or pushing the band with the left, she’s got a wonderfully expressive way about the instrument. Watch out, Diana what’s-her-name.
Finishing up on solo piano, Karrin turned to Billy Joel’s plaintive refrain “And So it Goes” as her band mates left the stage. And so it goes, indeed—when you bring together all of this talent in a warm, intimate setting like Jardine’s, you’re in for a night to remember. You’ve got two more chances—Tuesday (tonight) at 6:30 and 8:30.