Karrin Allyson Quartet returns to Jazz SLC

By Jeff Metcalf

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Nov. 17 2012 2:25 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Somehow Jazz SLC has a knack for stacking jazz talent on top of even more jazz talent.

The Monday, Nov. 19, concert at Capitol Theatre, featuring the Karrin Allyson Quartet is no exception.

Allyson, with a wide range of vocal and musical interests, has a huge fan base in Utah that keeps growing.

Like many musicians, Allyson began her studies in classical piano and soon found the jazz world irresistible. She has become a composer, a band leader, a talented pianist and a hypnotic singer. What makes Allyson unique as a musician is the confluence of many vocal styles, experimentation with different forms of music and a hunger for exploration that demands equal parts curiosity and artistic bravery.

Out of the gates, Allyson hit the floor running. Five years after graduating from the University of Nebraska in music, she signed a contract with Concord records. A year later, she released her first album, "I Didn't Know About You," and less than five years later, she released her fifth album, "Daydream."

In 2011, Allyson released her 13th album, "Round Midnight," which was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Female Jazz Vocalist.

"It's my job to make music and I like the process of working with creative people," Allyson said in a telephone interview. "It's funny, I've been on the scene for some time and I'm not in everybody's living room yet, so I relish the challenge of reaching as many people as I can. If you want to make a living singing and playing then you have to keep creating music."

For the past several years, Allyson has been expanding her musical interests into the world of Brazilian and French music. This foray into international music is reflected in her earlier album, "From Paris to Rio" (1999), and more recently in "Imagina: Songs of Brazil" (2008).

"Latin music is a broad conversation and I try to be as authentic to the language and music as I can be," Allyson said. "Inside Brazil there are musical forms inside musical forms. When I began to record in Portuguese, I hired a teacher who was a journalist by profession. She asked me what form of Portuguese I was interested in studying and then she worked me very hard. It was important to me and to the music and I wanted to get it as perfect as possible. During my last concert in Salt Lake, I was able to publicly acknowledge her in front of the crowd."

Joining Allyson on stage will be longtime partners Todd Straight on drums and Rod Fleeman on guitar, and Jeff Johnson, new to the group, on bass. Straight and Fleeman are Allyson regulars, and Allyson is quick to compliment their talent.

"They're superb musicians as well as being creative artists," she said. "We've been working together for a long time."

Allyson promises a lively and energetic performance at the Capitol Theatre.

"We like to mix it up and we love the Salt Lake jazz scene. Gordon has done a wonderful job in promoting jazz and I'll certainly do some of his favorites. And, since I hadn't recorded 'Round Midnight' the last time I was here, we'll play some numbers from that as well as mixing it up with some Brazilian and French music. A great deal of the music will be new to the audience. It should be a great time."

Tickets for the concert are $28 and are available at 801-355-2787. Student tickets are $10 and must be purchased at the Capitol Theatre box office.

Jeff Metcalf is a professor of English at the University of Utah who loves jazz music.

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