Jazz and Classical Music. They’re drawn together like parts of a magnet — think back to Maurice Ravel arriving in New York City in 1928. His first act was to call George Gershwin. “I want to hear jazz for myself,” he proclaimed. Gershwin squired Ravel up to the Cotton Club in Harlem. That fascination with combining jazz and classical music is at the heart of the Karrin Allyson/Bill McGlaughlin Pops Concerts.
Karrin Allyson is a much-honored singer/pianist with multiple Grammy nominations for her catalog of recordings for Concord Jazz and kudos from major jazz critics across the globe. In a NY TIMES concert review, Stephen Holden observed: “Ms. Allyson is really a jazz equivalent of Bonnie Raitt. She approaches a romantic song from a perspective that is wised up and well defended but not quite tough. I couldn’t imagine her falling for a line of sweet talk.” In a separate live review, Holden noted, “She doesn’t preen, flirt or act coy. What you see and hear is what you get: a musically and psychologically centered gamine, deeply schooled in jazz…and devoid of grandiosity.”
Gary Giddins, Village Voice – “Allyson coolly stakes her claim. She brings a timbre that is part ice and part grain — incisive, original, and emotionally convincing.”
Veteran jazz critic Don Heckman wrote in The LA Times, “Allyson has another attribute that has consistently placed her in the top level of jazz vocal artists: utter musical fearlessness.” In The Washington Post, Mike Joyce praised the singer’s “soulful way with a ballad, quiet and haunting. Part of the fun of listening to Allyson, however, is hearing how gracefully she moves from ballads and bop to contemporary pop and bossa nova.” Bill McGlaughlin is a composer/conductor whose works have been performed by renowned ensembles — the New York Philharmonic, the Boston Pops and at the Hollywood Bowl, to name just a few. He was Music Director of the Kansas City Symphony for twelve seasons, capping a career which began with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He is also the host of the premiere public radio programs Exploring Music and St. Paul Sunday.
Together, Allyson and McGlaughlin have crafted a series of sparkling programs which bring together Allyson and her top-flight jazz rhythm section with the elegance and richness of the symphony orchestra. Programs range from explorations of The Great American Songbook (Gershwin, Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Bernstein, Lerner and Lowe) to Great Jazz Classics (Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane) to an International Celebration which includes Brazilian music — Jobim, Edo Lobo, Rosa Passos, French chansons — Jacques Brel, songs of Edith Piaf, Jacques Prevert/Joseph Kosma, Italian — Ennio Moricone’s Theme from Cinema Paradiso.) Rounding out the series of concerts is a Christmas program and an Evening of Singer-Songwriters — Bonnie Raitt, Jimmy Webb, Elton John, James Taylor. The result is — great, heart-felt, swinging presentations of beautiful music enhanced by opulence of a symphony orchestra.