“You can’t look back, you have to keep moving forward”: Karrin Allyson At the Vermont Jazz Center Concert Review Part 5

Here’s part of a concert review I wrote of the great jazz singer Karrin Allyson. Most of you know that music is one of my primary passions (I even combine music with team building) and I find it very helpful to learn to be an artist of life and work by tracking musical artists. I hope you find some inspiration this week in what I tracked.


She started set two like the first set, standing and singing without the piano.

Under Paris Skies (Sous Le Ciel De Paris). Although she introduced it as Under Paris Skies, she sang the French words only. Karrin is fluent in French.

“Even when we can’t understand a language, say I’m singing in Portuguese, and I’m not fluent in Portuguese, like opera singers who know a language can both speak and sing in it. I do speak French, and I’m learning Portuguese, and I certainly can’t converse in it, but you sing like you can. You don’t have to understand the language to get the feel or the style down. People love Edith Piaf in this country, they don’t necessarily know what she’s singing, but she has so much heart, soul, and feel in it that you get it.

How to prepare for it? I get tutoring in the languages, I don’t take it lightly or simply sing it syllabically. I want to know as much of the meaning as I can and get the accent down as close as I can. It’s hard, but I love languages, so it’s a labor of love. Also, getting the grooves down – I think what really captures us at first with Brazilian music are those wonderful samba, bossa, and folk grooves. Brazilian music has become such a big part of the American songbook too – so many great Brazilian composers.” – K.A.

All You Need to Say/Never Say Yes – a band feature with words by Chris Caswell. She started lightly, dug in for a scat chorus, a bass solo that quoted from melody, guitar solo also.

“I have always thought of scatting as just trying to make up another melody to the chord changes. You can take a linear approach or a more harmonic approach. Mine is probably more linear. It is another way for me to get interactive with the band. I am a musician who sings, so I am definitely part of the band. I am a leader, but I am (also) one of them. Vocalese is different than scat. It is singing a distinct melody with possibly a guitarist, horn player or whatever. You want to be in tune and breathing together. You want to sound like one.” – K.A.

Desafinado (in 7/8!) – A vocal feature, no other instrumental solos. She sang the English words only, scatted, and then sang the English words again.

“I think that what gets to me and other folks, are the rhythms, those infectious samba and bossa nova rhythms. Brazilian music is a very large (category). Somebody was saying the other day, it’s like eating Chinese food, because there is a ton of different kinds of Chinese food, but we say Chinese food, and we think of only one thing. Brazilian music is not just about samba, and it is not just about bossa nova. I am learning all of the time more about that. The music is layered with beautiful harmonies and beautiful melodies. I love the fact that Brazilian (composers such as) Jobim, are in love with nature, as I am too. His music is always connected to nature in some way.” – K.A.

Sophisticated Lady from Round Midnight

“It is funny how songs go in and out of our consciousness or even popularity at the time, depending on what area of the world that you are in. This song was being mostly played instrumentally. That is the way that I hear it out and about and I don’t hear many people singing it anymore. A wonderful gentleman that I have been working with here and there, Steve Nelson, a vibraphonist, when he would play on my gigs, I would ask him to do an instrumental here and there and he would choose that one. One time he said why don’t you come up and sing this one time through with us and we will take it out like a big band kind of a thing. I did and it became one of my favorites. It evokes such a great image. It is a great storytelling song.” – K.A.

Bye Bye Country Boy from In Blue – a song written by singer Blossom Dearie and Jack Segal, Karrin also took a nice piano solo on it

The Shadow of Your Smile (from ‘Round Midnight) – Like her recording of it, she sang the introductory verse acappella and then slid into a gentle bossa.

I Want to Be Happy (from the musical No, No Nanette)/What A Little Midnight Can Do – This was a thrilling drum and vocal duet, with Karrin modulating accapella in between drum solos.

She then brought the mood to a quieter, intimate place with two solo piano and voice songs – Robert Frost by bassist Jay Leonhart and the bluesy self-penned Home Cookin’ Man from her second album.

She brought the band back as well as VJC’s own Eugene Uman on piano for (I Can’t Say) Teaneck (from her Footprints album)

“Bebop has that continuum. You cant look back, you have to keep moving forward…bop is an amazing intellectual challenge.” – K.A.

Eugene then accompanied her on Lover Man (in Am – it was really impressive to see Eugene transpose the song from memory)

Karrin encored with O Pato, the bossa nova song written by Jayme Silva, singing the English words by John Hendricks. This is a very popular song of hers – when I saw her perform last year, audience members where shouting for it. She used the shakers again and took a scat solo.

She ended the night on piano with the bluesy Randy Newman song Guilty, made famous by Bonnie Raitt. She started out with just piano and her voice, and then rest of band came in.

The Last Word from Karrin

“You can expect a lot of interaction among the band, a good choice of material, quality music and then sometimes you get the unexpected which is good.” – K.A.

We got that and more – thank you Karrin! Thanks also to Eugene Uman for bringing such world-class musicianship to our area.


See Karrin Allyson live in the following YouTube clip

Karrin Allyson @ Lincoln Center: Chovendo Na Roseira (Double-Rainbow)

This entry was posted in Music, Quest Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
Do you want to be at your best every day?
Subscribe with your email address
Enter Your email address:

Be at your best by following Rob Fletcher on Twitter:@robfletcher1