Mose Allison (1927-2016) was a pianist/singer/songwriter of jazz and blues with a dark/wry sense of humor. Karin Allyson cites him as happy influence. When I booked this show, I expected selections from her new CD, Some of That Sunshine. Though the artist is a capable and enthusiastic performer with an appealing voice, her honoree’s songs all sound the same.
“I’m Not Downhearted, But I’m Getting’ There” is longlined/languid: …Just don’t drink the water/Try not to breathe the air/I’m not discouraged/But I’m getting’ there…Guitarist Rod Fleeman embroiders around a one-two beat, bent almost in half and rocking over a music stand. Allyson relishes the lyric. She calls this a “personal crisis song” identifying four types written by the honoree: “personal crisis, slapstick, public service (things you ought a know) and local color.” It’s unclear whether the list is her own.
“Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy (but they don’t know the meaning of the word),” in the ‘public service’ category, is traditional blues with burlesque beat. Guitar excels with moderated wail. Several choices, like Mercy, can be found on the CD Shoulder to Shoulder celebrating women’s right to vote. “I’ll Be No Submissive Wife,” written at the time of suffragettes, has been turned into a hyper fast jazz number with no discernible melody making it seem in direct opposition to lyrics/sentiment.
Back to Mose. Y’know if silence was golden/You couldn’t raise a dime/Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is/Working overtime…the vocalist sings to tripling piano with purposeful drag. Infectiously dancing, eyes closed, interior monologue is withheld. Allyson’s scat is unique, round-edged rather than staccato. “Ask Me Nice,” (at the piano herself) has a honky-tonk sound: I’m just tryin’ to swing my way through life. “Big Brother” spotlights percussionist Jerome Jennings.
Citing Bonnie Raitt as another influence, the artist, alas, offers only one of her songs. “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” with tempo like deep breathing, is a pleasure. On its heels Allyson’s own “I Can Do Anything As Long As You Love Me” arrives like its sister.
This evening closes with “Some of That Sunshine” (Karrin Allyson) Miro Sprague’s piano strolls and weaves. One imagines loose-limbed tap dance.
Photo courtesy of Birdland
Allyson Sings Allison: Karrin Allyson- Tribute to Mose Allison
Karrin Allyson- vocals/piano
Miro Sprague-piano, Marty Jaffe-bass, Jerome Jennings-drums, Rod Fleeman -guitar
January 21, 2020
Birdland 315 West 44th Street
Karrin Allyson and her band have 7 more shows at Birdland