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A sweet project

Karrin Allyson - By Request - The Best Of

(Concord Jazz)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Aug. 14, 2008
Karrin Allyson

Review by Jean Timmons

Karrin Allyson's latest recording is a "best of" with a twist: the songs are from Allyson's eleven cds (amazing arrangement) released through Concord Jazz and represent the ones most "requested" by family, friends, and fans of Allyson. In addition, it becomes a good representative sampling of all her work, in her brief career. Most songs have strong features, except for "O Pato" ("The Duck"), lyrics by Jon Hendricks. Why anyone would record that song escapes me. A live performance for kicks, perhaps. But I'm rushing for the "skip" button when it comes up. Yet, it's a small price to pay for such a strong production, and someone out there grooves on "Duck." For curiosity's sake, "Life Is a Groove (Jordu)" featuring Nancy King and Jobim's "A Felicidade (Happiness)" from Black Orpheus, with English lyrics by Susannah McCorkle are rewarding.

Allyson is a singer who can surprise you with her musicianship, as she does on the blues "Moanin,'" the Bobby Timmons composition, with lyrics, again, by the ubiquitous Jon Hendricks, and "Cherokee," which she sings at an amazing clip, thanks to saxophonist Kim Park setting the furious pace. On "Moanin'," she is backed by Steve Wilson on alto, Danny Embrey on guitar, Mulgrew Miller on piano, Peter Washington on bass, and Lewis Nash on drums, and they cook. She works another blues well, too - a song that she composed, "Sweet Home Cookin' Man." Her approach, finding her voice and the blues in her life, is the attribute that impresses me about Karrin Allyson singing the blues.

The way Allyson handles ballads is not surprising. She's good, and at times she is very, very good. "What's New" is stellar. It is one of the ballads from her excellent recording of Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane, on which she performs every song on Coltrane's classic Ballads album, in the order they appear on that disk. Other notables are "Sous Le Ceil De Paris" (Under Paris Skies), "Everything Must Change" and "Nature Boy."

It's a sweet project and an awfully pleasant way to either enjoy or discover the music of Karrin Allyson. And for those already acquainted with her music, this one will enhance your collection.

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