Karrin Allyson's Bay Area Tour: Brazilian Melodies, Kenny Washington

No matter where you discover Karrin Allyson, you possibly can make sure that she is in good company.

One of jazz's biggest polyglot singers – she has developed an intensive repertoire of songs in French and Portuguese – the New York-based singer delves back into the Brazilian songbook on her recent album, “A Kiss for Brazil” (Origin Records). It's a musical journey she's taken before, most notably on 1999's seductive “From Paris to Rio” and 2008's “Imagina: Songs of Brasil,” each released on Concord Records, the label that released her first dozen albums starting in 1993.

The five-time Grammy nominee had no intention of starting one other Brazilian jazz project, “but my desire to sing with Rosa Passos spurred me to do it,” she said, referring to the favored singer and guitarist from Salvador da Bahia, the best living bossa nova artist. “I knew she was coming to New York to play with Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at Lincoln Center, so I organized it.”

Allyson featured Passos on two tracks from “A Kiss For Brazil,” the album she’s going to debut June 30 at Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, where she’s going to perform with a stellar Los Angeles combo of pianist Miro Sprague, bassist Karl McComas and drummer Dan Schnelle. “They work together as a trio and are a very tight unit,” said Allyson, who also accompanies herself on piano on a few of the tracks.

Sprague has been Allyson's primary West Coast musician for many of the past decade, including several appearances within the Bay Area. As certainly one of the Southland's leading accompanists, he has made forays north in recent times with artists resembling saxophonist Remy Le Boeuf and singer Sara Gazarek.

Passos won't be with Bach on Sunday, but Allyson is teaming up with one other high quality singer at Oakland's Sound Room on July 5 and 6, when Kenny Washington joins her for 2 evenings of musical conversation. They've formed a solid mutual admiration community over the past few years, attending one another's shows and infrequently sitting in together. But the Sound Room engagement is their first formal collaboration.

“I like the way Karrin is never pretentious about her singing,” said Washington, who plays June 28 and 29 with a trio led by pianist John R. Burr on the Keys Jazz Bistro. This monthly gig has done much to make the North Beach club certainly one of the realm's premier jazz singing venues.

“I like her for her honesty and musicality, on the piano and in her singing. She just sings the songs the way the legendary artists used to sing. She doesn't try to embellish them in a non-musical way.”

Allyson met Karen Van Leuven, who founded and runs the Sound Room together with her husband Robert Bradsby, at Dizzy's Club once they each saw Washington's show at Jazz at Lincoln Center a number of years ago. Van Leuven and Bradsby have been big supporters of Washington for the reason that New Orleans native got here to San Francisco in 1995. They were immediately excited by the thought of ​​presenting him in a special context with Allyson.

“We'll do duets and some things separately,” Allyson said. “It's billed as a musical conversation and we have. One of our favorite songs to sing together is 'The Shadow of Your Smile.'”

As a jazz singer who doesn't perform with a refined chart, Washington likes to let the music emerge on stage, a situation many singers aren't equipped for. He's had a number of memorable performances sharing the stage with Kim Nalley, “where it feels more like there's a horn player on stage,” he said. “The most important thing with another singer is that you encourage each other and understand each other. With Kim, and definitely with Karrin, we go up there without much preparation, and most of the time it just works.”

Allyson's performances aren't exactly a homecoming, but she has some deep ties to the Bay Area that predate Carl Jefferson's signing to Concord, a outstanding singer's label. She grew up in Omaha, but after her parents split up, her mother moved to the Bay Area, and frequent visits led to her moving west to complete highschool.

“I spent my senior year in the Oakland Hills at Holy Names High School,” she said. “I participated in theater in Hayward and did a few plays there,” before enrolling on the University of Nebraska Omaha, where she majored in classical piano and minored in French.

Some three many years after the discharge of her debut album, Concord's I Didn't Know About You, in 1992, Allyson continues to expand the promise of that eclectic program, moving on in style in the corporate of other musical masters.


With Trio: June 30, 3:30 p.m.; Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay; $45-55 (live stream $10); bachddsoc.org

With Kenny Washington: July 5–6, 7:30 p.m.; The Sound Room, Oakland; $42.50–$50; www.soundroom.org

Kenny Washington: 7 and 9 p.m., June 28-29; Keys Jazz Bistro, San Francisco; $35; keysjazzbistro.com

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