K A R R I N A L L Y S O N
The Village Voice — Gary Giddins
“Allyson coolly stakes her claim. She brings a timbre that is part ice and part grain — incisive, original, and emotionally convincing.”
The New York Times — Stephen Holden
“Sweet Core, Steely Edge” Karrin Allyson at Birdland
“There are so many ways to savor Karrin Allyson’s artistry. Start with her voice, its rare clarity and resonant timbre….Everything she sings seems to rise from a smile.”
Downbeat — Bob Doerschuk
“Since her debut with Concord Records, Karrin Allyson has won hearts and fans around the world for her intimate and powerful music making. A singer, pianist and songwriter with midwestern roots, Karrin signed a contract with Concord Records in 1992. Karrin’s association with Concord produced a series of thirteen top-rated records —five Grammy nominations among them. For ten years, she worked with her Kansas City based all-stars, touring all over the US as well as Europe, Japan and Brazil. In 2000, Karrin moved to New York City and continued to record with old friends and new, producing powerful recordings with Mulgrew Miller, Peter Washington, Steve Wilson, Gil Goldstein and Steve Nelson.”
Along with performing hundreds of concerts in Europe and Brazil, across the US and Canada, Karrin drew together the great duo of Kenny Barron and John Patitucci to join her in creating “Many A New Day,” a Grammy-nominated tribute to Rodgers and Hammerstein, released on Motema Records.
Among other engagements, Karrin highlighted the “Newport Jazz Festival: Now 60” tour, opening in New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and L.A.’s Disney Hall, The second leg of the tour featured two performances in Canada: Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, the Ottawa International Jazz Festival, followed by the Rochester Jazz Festival and Freihofer Jazz Festival in Saratoga Springs, before performing at the Newport Festival in July.
L.A Times — Don Heckman’s review of the Disney Hall performance. “Live Jazz: The 60th Anniversary of Jazz at Massey Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival at Disney Hall”
“A pair of memorable jazz celebrations filled Disney Hall Saturday night with an enthusiastic crowd of listeners. Both segments of the performance were dedicated to 60th anniversaries.
The second half of the bill celebrated the 60th anniversary of the start of the Newport Jazz Festival. This ensemble, with saxophonist/clarinetist Anat Cohen serving as musical director, offered an equally appealing array of players: Cohen, pianist Peter Martin, trumpeter Randy Brecker, singer Karrin Allyson, guitarist Mark Whitfield, bassist Ben Allison and drummer Clarence Penn.
As the program continued, a different musical direction took over, guided imaginatively by the two women in the ensemble: Cohen and Allyson. Always as improvisationally expansive as an instrumentalist, Allyson was at her best in a performance of “’Round Midnight” that showcased the full range of her expressive powers.
The highlight of the set, however, as well as the entire evening, was a reading of “La Vie En Rose” featuring Allyson’s lush-toned voice in tandem with the emotionally rich clarinet of Cohen. Singing and playing with expansive creative intensity, often moving with the subtle gestures of dancers, both brought a rarely heard feminine jazz expressiveness to the French classic — and the balance of the program.”
Recently Karrin produced a highly regarded album of original songs —
“Some of that Sunshine”. This self-produced effort has added significantly to her reputation as a complete musician.
Another favorite project is the album, “Shoulder to Shoulder, a Centennial Celebration of Women’s Suffrage.” This project was performed at Sony Hall in New York with a sensational band of Karrin’s colleagues, including Regina Carter, Ingrid Jensen, Helen Sung, Endea Owens and Allison Miller. Vocalists Kurt Elling and Madelyn Peroux added star turns and Harry Belafonte and Roseanne Cash joined the celebrants.
Andrew Gilbert wrote in Jazz Times:
“The album concludes with Allyson’s two original contributions, and they offer a glimpse at what could have been. “Way Down Below” is a rousing plea for sisterhood and uplift featuring some sterling violin work by Regina Carter. And the hip-hop-steeped “Big Discount” offers a trenchant protest against the wage gap and sexism with some pointed rapping by Rapsody. These songs combine a message with melodies that welcome a return visit.”
Karrin Allyson is also a respected and very much in demand teacher, working with singers from London to Tokyo and has recently taken on a new roll — Jazz Vocal Instructor at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford, joining a outstanding faculty headed by Javon Jackson.
In recognition of Karrin Allyson’s life in music and her long association with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Karrin’s alma mater, is presenting Karrin with an honorary Doctorate of Music in the fall of 2022.
In a recent extension of her wide-ranging love of many styles of music, Karrin enlisted her partner, Bill McGlaughlin, widely known as a conductor, composer and long time Public Radio music host in the creation of a new radio program: The B&K Cafe, which invites listeners into their living room monthly in a program of music and intimate conversation. The B&K Cafe has been broadcast since its inception in summer of 2000 over award-winning WWFM, and the full archive of all the programs are available online at WWFM.org.
With fifteen albums released so far, and more exciting projects in the works, this five-time Grammy nominated artist’s range and creativity seems to have no bounds. What unites this wide world of music is Allyson’s warmth and depth. She’s not just singing a lyric, she’s telling you her story. And then that becomes a part of your story. You hear the music from the inside out.