Karrin Allyson: 'Round Midnight (2011)
Karrin Allyson is a jazz singer's jazz singer. As such she is well-studied in jazz outside of the vocal realm. This particular tool in her considerable skill set is responsible for her command of even demanding material as evidenced on her near perfect Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane (Concord Records, 2001) and Footprints (Concord Records, 2006). These recordings were nominally concept projects, the first dedicated to John Coltrane's seminal Ballads (Impulse!, 1963),and the second addressing the vocalese of modern jazz compositions.
For 'Round Midnight, Allyson forges together multiple themes. She assembles a solid collection of standards from across eras, from 1936's "Smile" to 1973's "Send In The Clowns," each given a gilded and classy jazz treatment. A second, almost hidden, theme here is pianist Bill Evans. Many of the songs covered by Allyson on 'Round Midnight were also part of the Evans songbook. Allyson's breezy, confident approach melds well with the impressionistic potential of the music.
Bright gems abound in this collection. Paul Simon's "April She Will Come" is graced with Allyson's best laconic delivery and a beautiful solo by guitarist Rod Fleeland. Bob Sheppard deepens Gordon Jenkins' "Goodbye" with a reedy bass clarinet over an opiate-induced rumba. But it is Randy Weinstein's harmonica that steals the show on a Summer-plush "Sophisticated Lady." "'Round Midnight" has enjoyed a fruitful lifetime, here proving Allyson's courage and confidence to give it one more spin. With only the support of bassist Ed Howard, Allyson demonstrates what all the fuss has been about...perfect.
Track Listing: Turn Out The Stars; April Come She Will; Goodbye; I'm Always Chasing Rainbows; Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most; Smile; Sophisticated Lady; There's No Such Thing As Love; The Shadow Of Your Smile; Send In The Clowns; 'Round Midnight.
Personnel: Karrin Allyson: vocals, keyboards; Rod Fleeman: guitar; Bob Sheppard: woodwinds, Randy Weinstein: harmonica, Ed Howard: bass; Matt Wilson: drums.
Record Label: Concord Records