1. Oh, What A Beautiful Morning
2. Many A New Day
3. Happy Talk
4. I Cain't Say No
5. I Have Dreamed
6. Out Of My Dreams
7. Bali H'ai
8. When I Think Of Tom/Hello Young Lovers
9. We Kiss In A Shadow
10. You've Got To Be Carefully Taught
11. Something Wonderful
12. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top
13. Something Good
Karrin Allyson – Vocals, piano
Kenny Barron – Piano (tracks 1-13)
John Patitucci – Upright bass (tracks 1-13)
Karrin Allyson had several advantages when tackling the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. Ella Fitzgerald sang the Rodgers & Hart Songbook but she
didn’t deal with Rodgers & Hammerstein (except for the occasional song here and there). It might have been a challenge if Ella had had a go, although
Karrin is one of the few singers who can compete with the divine Ella.
Karrin also has the advantage of a particular timbre in her voice: sweet and attractive (somebody called it “feline”), which makes every interpretation
readily likable. Karrin’s other advantage is an ability to deliver songs with particular skill and intelligence, which makes every version unique. Her
phrasing is a cause for wonderment.
Allyson only tries songs from four of R & H’s wondrous musicals: five from Oklahoma!; four from The King and I; three from South Pacific; and two from The Sound of Music. There’s an extra one (This Nearly Was Mine) which is somehow only available to
iTunes users, tacked on at the end of the album. I shan’t review it as it isn’t open to everybody.
Alysson makes every song her own. For example, in I Cain’t Say No, Karrin (born in Kansas) starts the song with a mid-Western tinge in her voice
to portray a vulnerable woman who “cain’t say no”. But she goes into full jazz mode for the body of the song. In fact jazz is a style that appears rather
too infrequently on this CD, as most of the songs are ballads: slow and emotional but without much beat. Still, there are plenty of rewards, like the
delicate ending of Hello Young Lovers, where Karrin’s voice gently fades into the distance. Or the poignant interpretation of We Kiss In A Shadow
Besides the rich song interpretations, one bonus of this album is that it should remind the listener of the magic of Richard Rodgers’ music – and
especially Oscar Hammerstein’s lyrics. As Allyson says in her sleeve-notes, the lyrics are “tremendously romantic” but they are also rewardingly literate
and observant. Note, for example, the echo in the lines “A kiss gone by is bygone” and “Behold how my lover loves me”. Hammerstein could also inject
touches of sly wit, as in “You and me is lucky to be us”. Or there are the stunningly direct lyrics of You’ve Got To Be Taught” demolishing the
legitimacy of prejudice. Kenny Barron’s piano solo here is just right.
Barron and Patitucci supply subtle accompaniments throughout the album. The Surrey With The Fringe On Top cleverly modulates upwards in the midst
of the lyrics – a difficult feat for singer and accompanists, but accomplished seamlessly. The duo’s restrained backing underlines the romance of many
songs, although it is another reason why there is less jazz on this album than on some of Karrin’s other recordings. She provides her own piano
accompaniment for Edelweiss.
Not much jazz but no regrets.