Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane

Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane

by Karrin AllysonKarrin Allyson


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When thrilling to the John Coltrane Quartet's classic Ballads album, many listeners will undoubtedly have wondered how that classic collection of standards might fare in more traditional form, with a vocalist front and center. Forty years down the road, Karrin Allyson provides a satisfying answer with Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane. Allyson embraces the eight songs from the original album with a strong and limpid voice that relies upon a silky undertone to convey emotional nuance. She maintains a tenderly romantic mood on most of the tracks, such as "Say It (Over and Over Again)," "Too Young to Go Steady," "It's Easy to Remember," and "Nancy (With the Laughing Face)," but reveals a dramatic intensity on "You Don't Know What Love Is," moving convincingly between anguish and resignation; and when she gets her teeth into "All or Nothing at All," she shows that she can swing in a sultry vein that conjures up tropical nights and dangerous liaisons. Allyson gets fine support throughout the album from a group who must have felt like volunteers on a suicide mission, what with the all-but-incomparable work of Coltrane, Tyner, Garrison, and Jones so easily accessible for comparison. In a prudent move, producer Nick Phillips divided the saxophone duties between Bob Berg and James Carter on tenor and Steve Wilson on soprano -- all three make distinctive contributions on their allotted tracks, without provoking the Master's ghost to rise up and devour them. James Williams (piano), John Patitucci (bass), and Lewis Nash (drums) also acquit themselves splendidly, with an added assist from Allyson, who jumps in at the keyboard for "I Wish I Knew." Concluding the disc are three tracks not found on the Coltrane release: a gorgeous rendition of "Naima" in which Allyson layers shimmering, wordless vocals over a vivid instrumental counterpoint, followed by affecting versions of "Why Was I Born?" and "Every Time We Say Goodbye." From start to finish, Allyson and company give jazz fans their money's worth and more, offering a set that stands firmly on its own while offering a fresh perspective on Coltrane's genius. -- Philip Koslow

Product Details

Release Date: 05/22/2001
Label: Concord Records
UPC: 0013431495024
catalogNumber: 4950
Rank: 54358

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Karrin Allyson   Primary Artist,Piano,Vocals
Bob Berg   Tenor Saxophone
John Patitucci   Strings,Acoustic Bass
James Williams   Piano
Lewis Nash   Cymbals,Drums,Drum Sticks

Technical Credits

Karrin Allyson   Liner Notes
John Burk   Executive Producer
Gene DePaul   Composer
Josiah Gluck   Engineer
Nat Hentoff   Liner Notes
Nick Phillips   Producer
Don Raye   Composer
Alexis Davis   Director,Product Development
Glen Barros   Executive Producer
Bill Phelps   Cover Photo

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