Karrin Allyson Quartet – Dunstan Playhouse -Cabaret Festival – 3K

By Tom Eckert

Karrin Allyson and her quartet really know how to fill a room. Her reputation clearly precedes her – practically packing the Dunstan Playhouse.

Going for a run through the modern American jazz influence, dipping from time to time into Latin grooves and the French songwriters.This quartet is clearly practiced with each other with a tight knit feedback within the group and an impeccable balance.

Karrin, herself, exquisitely displays all the charms of a mature voice showing off her darker timbre, stripping her delivery right back to emphasise her personal idiosyncrasies.

A great strength of this group is the driving force on the kit. With a barely restrained energy and a beautifully weighted touch, he really pulls the most out of his instrument.

Masters of the more personal side of jazz, pulling their audience in and identifying with their more intimate side, with captivating version of  ‘Smile’ that exquisitely played on dichotomy between the optimistically hopeful lyric and the agonising minor progression of the instrumental. Whilst these subtle leanings were delightful, after a while it left the audience wanting for a shout chorus here or there to mix up the tone.

This strength for intimate music, however, unfortunately resulted in the greatest detraction from this show. Built for the jazz halls; being put into the Dunstan Playhouse kills the back-and-forth between the audience and band that is so essential for small group jazz. Putting them up on stage in front of the rakes puts a fourth wall between the band and the crowd – prohibiting the shared jokes and appreciative “yeah man,” muttered under your breath. This creates the effect of making all the usual gestures feel a touch contrived and the audience unwilling to share the groove.

A world class ensemble unfortunately curtailed by poor venue choice who I have no doubt will still fill the room every night despite this.

Kryztoff rating 3K

Leave a Reply