15 MAR 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH
If I told you a singer, an all-American blond with solid Midwestern roots, was releasing a CD of obscure Brazilian music sung mostly in Portuguese, what would you think? Hubris? Over-reaching? When the singer in question is Karrin Allyson, you'd be wrong. Her 11th CD for Concord, Imagina: Songs Of Brasil, arrives in stores on March 25th.
One of the most prolific and protean jazz vocalists working today, Allison is not one to stick with a working formula. She's produced an eclectic body of work -- jazz takes on songs by '70s icons Carole King, Elton John and Joni Mitchell, a Coltrane tribute album, a vocal trio project with John Hendricks.
This latest release isn't her first foray into the world of international pop music. Earlier albums Collage and From Paris To Rio included songs sung in Portuguese and French. But Imagina is a focused collection, edited with a curator's ear for quality and weeding out the unfortunately over-exposed examples of Bossa Nova music. Antonio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, deans of the genre, are represented by some of their less familiar work, as are compositions by Rosa Passos and Edu Lobo, well known in their own country but not household names north of the equator.
Brazilian music has the power to lift us out of the mundane. The sensitivity of the vocal style and undulating chromaticism of its harmony combine with the percussion's horizontal pull to create a sonic wave that relaxes the body, calms the spirit and takes the mind away.