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Interviews

Karrin Allyson: Has Jazz, Will Travel

By Published: August 18, 2009

AAJ: I haven't been there, but I lived in Chicago for three years in the days of Mister Kelly's and the London House and the near North side jazz clubs.

KA: Boy, they need more.

AAJ: Well, New York has gotten better.

KA: New York has. It keeps crowding up.

Karrin AllysonAAJ: There are more rooms that are doing jazz. And the Metropolitan which is strictly a singers' club. I'm a New Yorker so I remember the original Birdland which is still there, by the way, It is downstairs. It is now a "gentlemen's club" called Flashdance. But the room is still there physically.

KA: Really, that's interesting.

AAJ: Speaking of New York, I find, too, that the singers in New York are very supportive of each other. They come to see you.

KA: I agree. It's a very good thing. It's healthy.

AAJ: It is healthy. And that's the great thing about jazz. It's not dog eat dog in jazz. People help each other out.

KA: Yes. Well, it's definitely mutual respect for each other's work. Because if you're in this for a while, you're serious about it because it's not a walk in the park.

AAJ: No. And it's certainly not a way to get rich.

KA: No. But I feel very lucky. I mean, right now, I struggle but I feel lucky I've been able to make a good living at what I love. And so many people say that when you're signing afterwards or talking to folks after the concert. "You're so lucky you get to do what you do that you love. I wish I would have stuck with piano."



I hear so many people who lament the fact that didn't stick with music. Not that they have to do it professionally, but to have it in their lives. And they can see how much fun we're usually having with it. It's physically pretty demanding and the road especially. But singing two full sets, sometimes three a night, is demanding. It's fun and it gives back to you but sometimes you have days where it takes a little more away than it gives back to you. It's just the way life is.

AAJ: Also the wonderful thing about it is you get an immediate feedback which can energize you.

KA: It's true.

AAJ: Have you recorded a live album yet?

KA: No, I have not. That's possible down the road. There are some cuts, certain cuts, but not a whole project.

AAJ: How do you feel about doing that?

KA: I would love to sometime. It's a whole different thing. It's challenging for the sound and everything. You have to pick a venue that's appropriate; that makes it easier in that way so you're not fixing more than it's worth—if you know what I'm saying. Yes, so that's my hope down the road.

AAJ: I wondered because eventually everybody does one.

KA: People ask that a lot because they're interested than recording session in a studio.

AAJ: You can always fix things when you're doing it in a studio, but live, there's more risk. But that's the fun of it.

KA: Absolutely. Taking chances.

Karrin Allyson



AAJ: What about your writing? Are you going to keep up writing?

KA: Yes. My friend Chris Caswell, again who worked so hard with us on "Footprints" and also wrote a couple of the English lyrics for Imagina—we're doing some writing together. It's something I like to do. But often I think, there's so many great songs out there, why would I put one of my mediocre things out there. But you got to get over that.



Well, one of my goals is to do one of my original songs on my gigs and just make myself do it. Imagina has been out for a while. I love it but I'm always out there to promote our music, whatever we're doing. But I'd like to include other things now too because the more you play them live when you get into the session in the studio, the more comfortable it's going to feel.

AAJ: Because you've lived with the material. But also in the studio, in jazz it never goes the same way twice. And you can never play anything wrong.

KA: I can!!

AAJ: No, because if you play it wrong, you do it twice and then it's right. If you played it wrong the first time, you play it again the same wrong way and everybody thinks that's the way it goes.

KA: But the jazz audience is pretty educated mostly. And that's a good thing. They know.


Selected Discography

Karrin Allyson, By Request: The Best of Karrin Allyson (Concord, 2009)

Karrin Allyson, Imagina: Songs of Brasil (Concord, 2008)

Karrin Allyson, Footprints (Concord, 2006)

Karrin Allyson, Wild For You (Concord, 2004)

Karrin Allyson, In Blue (Concord, 2002)

Karrin Allyson, Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (Concord, 2001)

Karrin Allyson, From Paris To Rio (Concord, 1999)

Karrin Allyson, Daydream(Concord, 1996)

Karrin Allyson, Collage (Concord, 1996)

Karrin Allyson, Azure-Te (Concord, 1994)

Karrin Allyson, Sweet Home Cookin' (Concord, 1993)

Karrin Allyson, I Didn't Know About You (Concord, 1992)



Photo Credits

Page 1, top: Vidmon

Page 1, bottom: AMS Artists

Page 2: Juro Kovacik

Page 3: Jazzportrait

Page 4: AMS Artists



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