Karrin Allyson

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Karrin Allyson

Dizzy’s Club, NYC, May 30, 2023

Reviewed by Bart Greenberg

Karrin Allyson

The dynamic jazz vocalist Karrin Allyson took charge of the stage at Dizzy’s Club and enchanted the viewers with her wide range of musical styles. Considering that any performer at this comfortable venue has to compete with the most wonderful view from any club in the city, it takes a large personality and a major talent to keep the attention of the audience. Allyson did that indeed, whether swinging through “Happy Talk” (she joked that back in high school she played Nellie Forbush and now she was Bloody Mary) or painting a portrait with a subtle “Sophisticated Lady,” she was totally in command.
She engaged seamlessly with her musicians; interestingly, the program was introduced as “The Karrin Allyson Quartet” rather than as her and her trio, as if she were one member of the extremely talented band. The other members of the group were Miro Sprague on piano, Marty Jaffe on bass, and Jerome Jennings on drums.

Allyson is a personality all to herself, with her fine voice, her surprising and eccentric body language, her attention to lyrics, and her wide interest in musical genres. Gems such as “Social Call” were given a full interpretation, complete with a dazzling drum solo, and she fully embodied the aching “I Ain’t Got Nothing But the Blues,” which was imbued with a “been through the wringer” feel, but a still-surviving attitude was emphasized with some easy scatting. Throughout, she seemed to communicate wordlessly with her musicians so that everyone was always on the same page. Even when Allyson accepting an audience member’s request to sing the classic “Shenandoah,” the team came together in a shimmering, gorgeous interpretation as each instrument slid in to place to create a visual image.

Later in the evening, the singer took over at the piano to perform some of her own material, songs just as assured and emotional as the standards she had offered earlier. “Just Passing Through” and “As Long as I Know You Love Me” were flavored with a surprising country flair. When Sprague joined her at the keyboard for an exciting stride piano duet on “Nothing’s Going to Be Alright,” things were hot indeed. Earlier, the star took time to promote her upcoming album of Brazilian music, and she delivered a delicate version of “Manha de Carnaval” from the film Black Orpheus. There truly doesn’t appear to be a genre Allyson can’t conquer, and she gave us a sampling of most of them during this lovely night.

Bart Greenberg

Bart Greenberg first discovered cabaret a few weeks after arriving in New York City by seeing Julie Wilson and William Roy performing Stephen Sondheim and Cole Porter outdoors at Rockefeller Center. It was instant love for both Ms. Wilson and the art form. Some years later, he was given the opportunity to create his own series of cabaret shows while working at Tower Records. "Any Wednesday" was born, a weekly half-hour performance by a singer promoting a new CD release. Ann Hampton Callaway launched the series. When Tower shut down, Bart was lucky to move the program across the street to Barnes & Noble, where it thrived under the generous support of the company. The series received both The MAC Board of Directors Award and The Bistro Award. Some of the performers who took part in "Any Wednesday" include Barbara Fasano and Eric Comstock, Tony Desare, Andrea Marcovicci, Carole Bufford, the Karens, Akers, Mason and Oberlin, and Julie Wilson. Privately, Greenberg is happily married to writer/photographer Mark Wallis, who as a performance artist in his native England gathered a major following as "I Am Cereal Killer."