REVIEW: Karrin Allyson – Imagina: Songs Of Brasil

Over the last decade or so, there are very few – if any – female jazz vocalists who can match Karrin Allyson’s steady climb as a fan favorite. The Grammy-nominated singer has become a regular on the album charts, and has also become an audience favorite in live appearances at a number of locations, including Carnegie Hall.

Along the way she’s become a mainstay of the Concord stable of artists, and has now issued her eleventh album for the label, Imagina, Songs Of Brasil. Although it’s her first album comprised entirely of Brazilian music, she has featured the genre in her live performances, and her 1999 album, From Paris To Rio, spotlighted her singing in both French and Portuguese.

On her new release, she gives us an entirely new collection of 14 tracks, all performed in either just the original Portuguese, or both Portuguese and English. One of the dual language songs is the first track, Jobim’s “A Felicidade (Happiness),” and I found myself a little ambivalent about this and the other tunes with “split” personalities. Maybe it’s just me, but part of the appeal of this song, which is about searching for happiness at Carnival, is the exotic sound and mystery of the original language.

On the other hand, if Karrin hadn’t included the English lyrics I wouldn’t have known what it was about, so maybe I’m all wet. Either way, it’s a great song and she is a delight to hear. Her comfort level with the music on the album is apparent, and the confidence of an experienced and talented performer shines through.

There isn’t a bad listen on the album, but some of my favorites include “Só Tinha de Ser Com Você,” which not only features Karrin’s playful side, but also a nice guitar solo from one of her accompanists, Rod Fleeman. He’s just one of several skilled instrumentalists appearing here – another is bassist David Finck – and the group does a good job of showcasing Karrin while occasionally turning in some nice small solos of their own.

I also enjoyed a couple of other Jobim pieces that have become Brazilian standards, “O Morro Não Tem Vez (Favela),” and the very familiar “Desafinado (Slightly Out of Tune).” It’s a song that shows up on a lot of Brazilian collections and she does a nice job with it (but she did NOT include “Girl From Ipanema,” in case you wondered).

Another good listen was the soft and smooth “É Com Esse Que Eu Vou,” composed by Pedro Caetano, which closes the album. But as I said earlier, there are no stinkers here — it’s a very nice grouping of Brazilian jazz pieces, well-performed by a talented singer, backed up by experienced pros. Go for it.

Complete song listing and sound samples available at artist’s website or Amazon.

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