1. Turn out the Stars
2. April Come She Will
4. I'm Always Chasing Rainbows
5. Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most
7. Sophisticated Lady
8. There's No Such Thing as Love
9. The Shadow of Your Smile
10. Send in the Clowns
11. `Round Midnight
Karin Allyson - Vocals, piano, Fender-Rhodes
Rod Fleeman - Acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Ed Howard - Bass
Matt Wilson - Drums
Bob Sheppard - Tenor sax (track 1), bass clarinet (track 3)
soprano sax (track 4), alto flute (track 9)
Randy Weinstein - Harmonica (tracks 6, 7)
This is Kansas-based Allyson's thirteenth CD, but, I must confess, the first one that I've heard. I will be listening to her regularly from now on as, on the evidence of this CD, she is a jazz singer/pianist of the highest quality.
`Round Midnight, as the CD title suggests, is a collection of intimate, late-night songs - the kind of songs that have evocative, meaningful lyrics that tell a story. It is a well-chosen programme. On most tracks, Allyson accompanies herself on piano backed by the sensitive rhythm section of Fleeman, Howard and Wilson. Bob Sheppard contributes on woodwind in several tracks, notably a sinuous soprano sax solo on I'm Always Chasing Rainbows.
Allyson's voice has an occasional hint of the light, airy tones of Stacey Kent but with an engaging layer of huskiness that she uses most effectively to underline the story told by each song.
Several songs are well-known in the jazz repertoire: Bill Evans' Turn out the Stars, Ellington's Sophisticated Lady (on which the rhythm section is augmented by Randy Weinstein's sprightly harmonica) and the title-track are always worth hearing and Allyson's versions are excellent. It's also good to hear Gordon Jenkins' Goodbye, Johnny Mandel's The Shadow of Your Smile and Chaplin's Smile performed with such care and attention to the lyrics. Fran Landesman's Spring Can Really Hang You up the Most is taken at a jauntier tempo than usual, proving that a great song bears many alternative interpretations.
For me, the stand-out tracks are two less well-known tunes by composers not usually associated with jazz interpretations: Paul Simon's April Come She Will is much enhanced by Fleeman's delicate guitar-playing. There's No Such Thing as Love is by Anthony Newley and movingly sung by Allyson alone with her piano.
Karin Allyson has appeared in London at the much-missed Pizza On The Park and I would strongly urge the management of the Pizza Express, Dean Street, to book her at the earliest opportunity. That's where Diana Krall made her London debut and look what happened to her!!