All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Karrin Allyson - Round Midnight

Karrin Allyson - Round Midnight
2011, Concord Jazz

Karrin Allyson gets back to the roots of vocal jazz on her latest album, Round Midnight, due out May 5, 2011.  Allyson offers up twelve intimate portraits in song in understated yet emotionally vibrant fashion, recalling an era where small jazz clubs flourished and a sense of refinement enveloped the stage.  Allyson sings from the blue heartbreak of the speakeasy, covering both classic jazz vocal selections and modern songs in what may be the three-time GRAMMY nominee's most personal work to date.

Round Midnight opens with Bill Evans' "Turn Out The Stars", offering up a melancholy and emotionally heavy reading that brings out the sad nuance of Gene Lees' lyrics.  Allyson slows things down significantly and allows the emotion pool in perfectly articulated lines with her fashionably understated vocal style.  Paul Simon's "April Comes She Will" might seem out of place on the track list, but both the memorial of the passage of time and the depth of the human heart and Allyson's handling of the song are spot on.  "Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most" is a great, bluesy number about being stuck in the shadow of a love lost.  Allyson is expressive and refined here in what may her best vocal performance on the album. 

Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" gets the royal treatment; heartfelt and warm and full of palpable emotion.  Allyson stays very much true to the spirit of the original.  "There's No Such Thing As Love" features a toughness in the delivery that's a perfect spoil to the vulnerability and heartbreak underneath.  Johnny Mandel's "The Shadow Of Your Smile" is delivered in much the same fashion.  The flute solo here almost steals the show.  Stephen Sondheim's "Send In The Clowns" is a wonderfully nuanced and blue mood piece.  While not as dynamic as some of the famous renditions of this song, Allyson's take captures the emotion of the piece from a place that's dark and reserved.  Allyson closes with the epitome of loneliness in song.  "Round Midnight" (Thelonious Monk) is presented here with just Allyson and an upright bass for accompaniment.  Allyson's subtle and understated vocalization mixes perfectly with an almost free-form style in the bass part to capture hope maintained in spite of the loss of same.  This is a 'wow' moment almost in spite of itself.

Karrin Allyson sings at soundtrack of atmosphere, to be partaken of over a glass of whatever the bartender is pouring on the outskirts of desolation.  The refined and classy beauty that Allyson brings to the dregs of human emotion is refreshing.  With a touch for phasing and a voice full of quiet beautiful, Karrin Allyson will remind listeners of a time when it wasn't so much the singer as the song that mattered.  While she is in front on Round Midnight, Allyson is often an equal part of the ensemble that simultaneously documents the tragedy of human suffering in song, while soothing the hearts of those who seek an oasis in spirit and song.

Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Karrin Allyson at or  Round Midnight drops on May 3, 2011.  You can pre-order the album from on CD or as a Download.

No comments: