West Coast-based jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson was five albums into her Concord career before she hit on niche—well-conceived concept recordings. The first in this series was From Paris to Rio (Concord 4865, 1999), which found Ms. Allyson in the original French and Portuguese mood. From Paris to Rio contains a collection of specifically chosen melodies, all intricate and ornate. It was followed in 2001 with what may be Allyson’s masterpiece, Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (Concord 4950), where the singer took the instrumental ballads from Coltrane’s famous Impulse release of the same title and infused them with a frankly sensual ambience.
(Concord 2106, 2002) celebrated the blues as a theme with an assembly of songs that, while not all in a 12-bar format, still were infused with the musical language of the blues. Today, we find Ms. Allyson turning her full attention toward the popular music of her (and our) childhood. She shows great reverence toward songs like, James Taylor’s "Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight," Cat Stevens’ "Wild World," Elton John’s "Sorry Seems to the Hardest Word," and Roberta Flack’s "Feel Like Makin’ Love." Allyson’s arrangements are cool and sensual, never cute or experimental. While a very capable scat and vocalese artist, Miss Allyson instead chooses to focus her talent on the interpretation of the song. Melissa Manchester’s "I Got Eyes" is throughly transformed and would have served as a great Sinatra vehicle. Roberta Flack’s "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" closes the disc on a relaxed sensual note, perfectly rendered.
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