Sass and Class Vocal Jazz
Watch and listen to Karrin in a vocal drum duo recorded at KPLU studios.
Karrin Allyson is one of the freshest voices on the vocal jazz scene, and one of the most exciting talents to have emerged in the last 20 years. A rare singer with an instrumentalist’s approach to her art, Allyson’s sound is influenced by the rich tradition of jazz vocalists but remains free of direct comparison to any one singer. Her tireless dedication to her music and her honest approach to the song make her a favorite of classic and modern jazz lovers.
“Allyson’s voice is in fine form, a smoky alto you don’t forget once you’ve heard it. Her style is conversational, as if she’s sharing personal experiences, though she can and does wail a blues and bring home a pop tune like Randy Newman’s “Guilty,” last night’s encore. Her scatting seems effortless, natural moments within songs instead of showy displays.”
– Pamela Espeland
Hailing from Great Bend, Kansas, Allyson started out on classical piano at age six, taking it seriously and eventually making it her major in college. She put herself through school playing and singing in pop and funk bands, and got introduced to jazz through fellow students. She focused her studies on jazz, gradually making singing her focus. Upon moving to Minneapolis, Allyson worked regularly and refined her style until a unique opportunity opened up at a Kansas City jazz club. She took a job at the Phoenix club as house singer, and honed her skills as a vocalist and bandleader before making the jump to New York, where she currently performs regularly.
Allyson’s recorded output is varied: French and Brazilian music (From Paris to Rio), a tribute to John Coltrane (2001’s Ballads), and a blues record (In Blue). Her Brazilian recording, Imagina: Songs of Brasil, was nominated for a 2008 Grammy award for Best Jazz Vocal Album. While her records are excellent, her live performances are the best way to experience Allyson’s gifts as a song interpreter.
Allyson enjoys a rare relationship with her record company. She’s not only been allowed to follow her creative impulses that have stretched her vocal prowess beyond the mainstream jazz realm, but she’s also been such an esteemed member of the Concord Jazz imprint that she’s recorded every single album of her career for it. Signed by Concord founder Carl Jefferson in 1993, Allyson has recorded 11 albums (all still in print) for the label-including her self-released I Didn’t Know About You debut album that Concord later reissued.
May 2011 marked a milestone for multiple Grammy nominated singer and pianist Allyson— the release of Round Midnight, the thirteenth album for Concord Records. Round Midnight made the short lists of several critics and publications, and earned Allyson her 4th Grammy nomination.
Notable jazz critic and historian Gary Giddins affirms, “Allyson coolly stakes her claim. She brings a timbre that is part ice and part grain…incisive, original, and emotionally convincing.”
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“…utter musical fearlessness….a complete artist — one of the jazz world’s finest…” — New York Times
“If there’s a choir in heaven, someday the exquisite vocalist Karrin Allyson will lead it. She’s such an otherworldly talent that the creator probably already has her on heavy rotation.” -Houston Press
“Allyson knows what jazz singing is all about…sometimes tender, sometimes tough, (she) always strikes the right chord.”
— Associated Press
“The stuff that shivers are made of, both innocent, sexy, and world weary.” -Washington Post