Karrin Allyson, Chick Corea, Jon Hendricks
January 1, 1970A big day of entertainment planned today — Alvin Ailey in the afternoon, a family birthday dinner, and Karrin Allyson's late set if my wife and I are still standing when 10:30 rolls around — so a short newsletter intro.
Allyson was this week's Jazz Note profile — her new CD, "Footprints," is very worth checking out. Chick Corea was the main jazz pick in Calendar, and his concert last night at Berklee Performance Center was excellent, though the Globe passed on having me review it. There were lots of Corea relatives in attendance (he was raised in nearby Chelsea), and he dedicated the Scott LaFaro song "Gloria's Step" — one of two Bill Evans-associated tunes the trio covered (the other was Evans's own "Waltz for Debby") — to an aunt, Gloria Corea. Airto Moreira also sang a Jobim tune, after introducing it with a comic mix of English, Portuguese, and nonsense. There were a couple of previous Jazz Notes profilees in the audience, too — Benny Sharoni and Molly Flannery — both of whom said hi.
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Singer puts her print on classics
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | April 28, 2006
Karrin Allyson has spent the past several years cranking out crackling-good concept albums.
The singer's sparkling 2001 disc "Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane" consisted of vocal versions of the same eight tunes on Coltrane's ''Ballads," plus three other ballads associated with Trane, and earned her a pair of Grammy nominations. "In Blue" (2002) explored a variety of blues-oriented tunes associated with everyone from Bobby Timmons and Blossom Dearie to Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell, and her "Wild for You" (2004) roamed a range of Allyson's early pop influences, among them Mitchell, Cat Stevens, and James Taylor.
Now comes "Footprints," the release of which this month is what brings Allyson to Scullers tonight and tomorrow, where she'll be backed by pianist Bruce Barth, bassist Vicente Archer, and her longtime drummer, Todd Strait. "Footprints" is arguably the best of the bunch, and it's definitely the jazziest, with Allyson and her cohorts adding lyrics to a baker's dozen of jazz instrumental classics.
"It's kind of a many-layered recording," Allyson, 43, says by phone from her home in New York, where last week she performed six nights at the Blue Note, double-billed with the Ron Carter Quartet. She notes that the great lyricist Jon Hendricks, of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross fame, sings his lyrics to two standards with her on the new disc, and that Oscar Brown Jr. was to do likewise but died before the recording session took place. Vocalist Nancy King joins Allyson on a half-dozen tunes as well.
Most intriguingly, the CD supplies smart new lyrics to nine classics, with Allyson penning them for Duke Jordan's "Jordu," and her newfound collaborator, Los Angeles-based pianist and arranger Chris Caswell, knocking out gems for the eight others — and many more besides.
The two met one night at the New York club Feinstein's, where Caswell was working as music director for Paul Williams. "It was very happenstance," Allyson recalls, "and we connected right away."
Allyson had done some writing by that point — her version of "Jordu," retitled "Life Is a Groove," was written a decade ago on a drive from Minneapolis to Kansas City, though it's only now coming to light publicly. She'd tried to write lyrics for a couple of other tunes on the new CD as well, but what she'd been coming up with struck her as inadequate or incomplete.
"Let me try," Allyson says Caswell told her. He wrote words to two slow-tempo Coltrane tunes, one of which Allyson had been struggling to add lyrics to herself ("Equinox"). He wrote them for three songs from the classic 1962 album "Nancy Wilson & Cannonball Adderley," one of Allyson's favorite records from the days when classmates at the University of Nebraska at Omaha were turning her on to jazz. He wrote words for Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma." And he wrote a particularly affecting tale about looking back in time, "Follow the Footprints," set to Wayne Shorter's masterpiece "Footprints."
Caswell's only apparent misstep turned out not to be one. On the contrary, it produced not just a good song but also a comic misunderstanding. When Allyson asked for lyrics to Ornette Coleman's "Turnaround," Caswell thought she was referring to an older standard: Hank Mobley's "The Turnaround."
"He faxed me the lyrics several days later," Allyson says, "and I'm trying to make them work with Ornette's tune, which is what I had in mind. And he had Hank Mobley's tune in mind. I called him and said, 'Chris, I like these lyrics, but I can't at all make them work. Are we on the same page here?' So I sang them to him, and he was, 'No, no, no!' I'd never heard the Hank tune before."
Hendricks whipped off some new writing for the CD as well, after deciding that his duet with Allyson on Horace Silver's "Strollin' " needed fleshing out. ''He said, 'Give me 15 minutes,'" says Allyson, impressed, "and went and wrote himself new lyrics for a whole new chorus."
Allyson impressed Hendricks, too.
"Karrin Allyson is the best female musical artist that I have met since first meeting Annie Ross," he declared while in Cambridge last week for a Harvard residency and concert. "She's divine, she's spiritual, she's beautiful, she's talented, and she's just plain marvelous."
The final cut on "Footprints" is Hendricks's lightning-quick bebop homage "Everybody's Boppin'," which he, Ross, and Dave Lambert made famous together more than four decades ago. This time it's Allyson, Hendricks, and King handling the vocals, with each of them contributing scat solos — in that order.
"I intentionally took the first solo, because I didn't want to follow them," Allyson says, laughing. "I'm not stupid."
Karrin Allyson performs at 8 and 10:30 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at Scullers. Tickets $25. Call 617-562-4111 or visit www.scullersjazz.com.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
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Calendar Jazz Picks
The Chick Corea Trio with Airto Moreira and Eddie Gomez: Forever Returns
Berklee Performance Center, 136 Massachusetts Ave., Boston. 617-876-7777. 8 p.m. $32.50-$40.
The Fender Rhodes electric piano never sounded better than when Chelsea native Chick Corea was playing it with the earlier, Latin-tinged versions of his band Return to Forever, whose second (and best) album, "Light as a Feather," also featured bassist Stanley Clarke, percussionist Airto Moreira, and vocalist Flora Purim. Corea's trio on his current tour, with Moreira and bassist Eddie Gomez, is meant to evoke those glory years without mimicking them - hence the tour's transposed name, Forever Returns. When the group played New York's Blue Note for six nights earlier this month, Corea was reportedly playing primarily electric piano. But the Corea and company steered clear of jazz-rock fusion, maintaining a lighter Brazilian feel as they covered both RTF-associated Corea originals such as "500 Miles High" and "La Fiesta," and standards by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Richard Rodgers.
Fri 4-28 Ernest Dawkins and the New Horizons Ensemble Sax man Dawkins, current head of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, makes his Boston debut with his Chicago-based quintet, in what's been announced as the final concert of the decade-old Boston Creative Music Alliance. Institute of Contemporary Art, 955 Boylston St., Boston. Tickets available at the door, or in advance from Twisted Village, 12 Eliot St., Cambridge, 617-354-6898. Call 617-628-4342 for show information. 8 p.m. $10, $8 students and seniors.
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Hendricks shows his skill, not his age
By Bill Beuttler, Globe Correspondent | April 24, 2006
CAMBRIDGE — Jon Hendricks's performance at Sanders Theatre with the Harvard University Jazz Band, the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College, and other guest artists was billed as "In the Spirit of Duke," its second half devoted to excerpts from Duke Ellington's First and Second Sacred Concerts. But the spirit of Count Basie was invoked by a handful of numbers, too.
The program opened with the 100-voice Kuumba Singers and the jazz band taking turns setting the stage for Ellington and religion with a pair of gospel songs and Billy Strayhorn's "Take the A Train." Hendricks then came onstage, resplendent in a red jacket and admiral's hat, and belted out "Get Me to the Church on Time."
Hendricks's daughter, Aria, joined him to sing the Annie Ross parts on vibrant vocalese versions of three Lambert, Hendricks & Ross-associated Basie tunes. "Look at him," she told the audience at one point, nodding toward her dapper and youthful dad. "He's 84. Obviously, he's on a different clock."
You hardly would have noticed Hendricks's age otherwise, as the two of them sang and scatted their way through Basie. If Hendricks has lost a little hop on his fastball over the years, he has more than made up for it with his veteran's wiles. A highlight was his trading fours with tenor saxophonist Jake Cohen on "Jumpin' at the Woodside," Hendricks playfully shifting his microphone back and forth between the bell of Cohen's horn and his own mouth.
Sacred Concert highlights started with Hendricks singing "In the Beginning, God," which Hendricks had performed with Ellington at its debut in 1965. Students Steven Kyle Ridgill, Paris V.L. Woods, and Genithia Hogges each sang a song solo; Darryl Campbell took an impressive turn on trumpet; and Noah Nathan and Charles Frogner echoed Johnny Hodges and Ellington on alto sax and piano, respectively.
But best of all was when tap dancer Jimmy Slyde joined Hendricks for "David Danced Before the Lord With All His Might" and "Praise God and Dance Finale," and the two old friends prodded each other onward and upward to the audience's delight.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company