146

Karrin Allyson: Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Karrin Allyson: Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane After 20 years of working as a singer originally in Minneapolis and primarily in Kansas City, Karrin Allyson has recorded the album her fans have awaited—the album that no doubt will expand her recognition beyond those listeners who have savored her work as almost a private find.

And she has achieved all of this without compromising her dedication to jazz. In fact, she has achieved it by emphasizing that dedication.

Ballads connects Allyson's long-obvious jazz sensibility with a concept that throws her into another phase of her career. We're not talking about just any Ballads album. We're talking about the Ballads album—the John Coltrane masterpiece that gained the high degree of veneration reserved for his other invaluable albums. Putting Coltrane's Ballads to song could be a bold concept. But it's a logical one, even though it may have seemed sacrosanct. The original intention is for ballads to be sung. Ultimately, Allyson is merely moving these ballads from Coltrane's album back into the vocal sphere where they began.

But the production values of Allyson's Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane album are anything but mere. They include some of the more accomplished saxophonists on the scene today, all of whom have their own successful careers: James Carter, Bob Berg and Steve Wilson. Perhaps the obeisance to Coltrane that inspires them. But the saxophonists' solos on all of the tracks (except for "I Wish I Knew" on which Allyson accompanies herself on piano) attain a fervor that becomes evident to the listener, such as Bob Berg's gem on "You Don't Know What Love Is." In other instances, the saxophonists craft an iridescent quality, the colors shifting from bright swing to the darker hues of resolution, as on Steve Wilson's work on "Every Time We Say Goodbye."

While the addition of saxophonists to the vocal adaptation of Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane makes sense, it also provides evidence of Allyson's respect for the music as well. Without ostentation, with due attention to words, but most importantly, with respectful knowledge of the Coltrane album, Allyson allows enough time on each track for each saxophonist to stamp his own musical personality and to tell his own story arising from the occasion of the melody. For instance, James Carter, subtly cushioning Allyson's singing at the beginning of "Say It," evolves the song into single-noted punctuations and then characteristic unctuousness. On "Naima," both Allyson and Carter perfectly match harmonies in a wordless re-creation of Coltrane's classic tune. When Allyson sings the melody in unison with Carter, their sense of pitch is so sure that voice becomes almost indistinguishable from tenor saxophone. Then, after Carter enlivens the tune with a controlled frenzy of a solo, he and Allyson break into moving harmonies that could easily be two voices or two horns, instead of one of each.

It seems that the ascension of Allyson's career coincides with her move to New York from the comfort and friends of Kansas City. We don't hear Rod Fleeman, Kim Park, Paul Smith, Claude Williams, Danny Embrey or Bob Bowman—who served her supremely in the past—on Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane. Rather, we hear James Williams, John Patitucci and Lewis Nash, who comprise a killer rhythm section, perhaps due only to the fact that Allyson is recording in New York now. Nevertheless, the combination of Allyson's voice with a powerhouse piano trio and unleashed saxophonists creates a superlative album. The fact that Allyson has tied all of these components into an overriding concept makes Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane her best accomplishment yet, both in concept and in execution.


Track Listing: Say It (Over And Over Again), You Don

Personnel: Karrin Allyson, vocals, piano; Bob Berg, James Carter, tenor sax; Steve Wilson, soprano sax; James Williams, piano; John Patitucci, bass; Lewis Nash, drums

| Record Label: Concord Music Group | Style: Vocal


Shop

More Articles

Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "57th & 9th" CD/LP/Track Review 57th & 9th
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Siren Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Siren Songs
by James Nadal
Published: April 24, 2016
Read "A Multitude of Angels" CD/LP/Track Review A Multitude of Angels
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2016
Read "The Digging" CD/LP/Track Review The Digging
by Budd Kopman
Published: July 31, 2016
Read "Porto da Madama" CD/LP/Track Review Porto da Madama
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 25, 2016
Read "Eight Track II" CD/LP/Track Review Eight Track II
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 1, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!