Jazz Vocalist Looks Forward And Back on Her Latest

Jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson’s tenth Concord release and her most recent to be issued on double 180g vinyl by Pure Audiophile, is yet another pleasing, eclectic and elegant set from the young, refreshingly unaffected vocalist.

Veteran jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks makes an appropriate appearance on an album of jazz standards, most of which have never before had lyrics. Hendricks specialized in that sort of thing during his heyday. Two Oscar Brown, Jr. tunes originally written with lyrics are also covered.

Here, with appropriately unadorned lyrics added by Chris Caswell on eight of the fifteen tracks (the LP edition includes two bonus tracks not on the CD), Allyson reinvents tunes by Dizzy Gillespie, Nat Adderley, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Hank Mobley, backed by a spare, small combo featuring bassist Peter Washington, drummer Todd Strait and pianist/arranger Bruce Barth. Basie band veteran Frank Wess adds sax and flute on a few tunes, and jazz vocalist Nancy King chimes in effectively on a few tunes as well.

Coltrane’s “Equinox” becomes “A Long Way to Go,” Diz’s “Con Alma,” “Something Worth Waiting For,” Adderley’s “Never Say Yes,” “All You Need to Say,” etc. Caswell neatly incorporates the original song titles into the new love-bound lyrics where possible and manages to seamlessly reinvent instrumental standards with not an awkward or false gesture even on challenging compositions like Coltrane’s “Lazy Bird,” here renamed “Lightning,” with a fleet sax solo by Wess.

Allyson’s vocal style is sultry, suggestive and refreshingly unadorned even when she does some scatting. Scat-haters needn’t worry, there’s not too much of it and she’s good at it. Edgy highlight: the title track, a reworking of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” renamed “Follow the Footprints,” with Nancy King.

The sonics here are simply superb. The album was recorded at Sear Sound, New York’s home of tubes and analog and however this was recorded it sounds tubey and analog (additional recording done at Fantasy in Beserkeley, CA.) Staging is tasteful with none of the ten-foot wide pianos and panned drum kits often found on studio recordings. The piano is particularly well-captured, as is the drum kit, and of course so is Allyson’s voice, which is thankfully free of studio artifice. She hardly needs augmentation (anywhere). Well done engineer Gluck!

Stan Ricker’s ½ speed mastering is, as usual, impeccable and the paper on cardboard, gatefold packaging is befitting a deluxe audiophile edition.

I know audiophiles are in love with Patricia and Diana (at least those who dig female jazz singers), but please, do yourself a favor and hop of that bus long enough to give Karrin Allyson a chance. This record will win you over.

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