Karrin Allyson marked the release of Footprints at the Blue Note in Aprila subtle introduction for a great album. The twice Grammy-nominated vocalist typically turns out great albums, so in and of itself, this isn't the news. What sets Footprints apart is Allyson's keen understanding of the jazz instrumental classics from which the CD borrows: It's a rare singer who can interpret the great horn players' star turns with this kind of poise.
For the show Allyson presented material from the new recording, along with a couple of pop-cum-jazz tunes, an idiom in which she specializes. As an opener, she sang Joni Mitchell's "All I Want (from Allyson's last CD, Wild For You) and later sat at the piano to accompany herself on "Vivre Pour Vivre, from the French film of the same name. Allyson also delivered high-energy renditions of some standardsa stop blues take on "Lost Mind and, in honor of the change in seasons, "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most (as a blues shuffle) and "It Might As Well Be Spring (as a fast samba).
But the main event was the new material. For this latest installment of her oeuvre, Allyson has taken acclaimed jazz compositions from the '50s and '60s by Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley and John Coltrane, for example, and added lyrics. Chris Caswell contributes the bulk of the poetry, though Allyson and the legendary Jon Hendricks also lend a hand with the lyrics. The arrangements are by Allyson and pianist Bruce Barth, who joined her on the Blue Note bandstand.
In the studio Allyson shared the mic with two avowed mentors, Hendricks and vocalist Nancy King, both authorities in scat solos and vocal harmonization. As always, Allyson's singing is emotional, involved and intensely personal. The result is both a singer's homage to the previous generation's jazz greats and an extension of their legacy.
Something Worth Waiting For (Con Alma); All You Need To Say (Never Say Yes); Lightning (Lazy Bird); A Long Way To Go (Equinox); Strollin
Karrin Allyson: vocals, shaker; Jon Hendricks: vocals, whistle solo; Nancy King: vocals; Bruce
Barth: piano, Fender Rhodes; Peter Washington: bass; Todd Strait: drums; Frank Wess: tenor
sax, flute; Nick Phillips: trumpet.