|reviews|

THE GIFT OF THE VAGI: BAD DECISIONS MAKE GOOD STORIES

November 16: At Café Noctambulo at Pangea, the irrepressible vocalist presented a “tale of woe and naughty bits” which produced more laughter than empathy...surrounding herself with the exceptional instrumentalists Frank Ponzio, Hayes Greenfield and Tom Hubbard ... moves along effortlessly from scene to scene by way of illustrative songs and clever transitions. Aided by an eclectic set of mostly classic standards, the extremely talented jazz singer rose to the challenge.  Tunes dated from as early as 1932, “I Got a Right to Sing the Blues” (Arlen & Koehler), to as recently as 2012, “My Kind of Guy” (Bill Zeffiro)... the diverse collection included iconic songs by Berlin, Porter, Coleman, and Warren, as well as a pair from Willie Nelson and Randy Newman. Allyn and her fabulous trio were clearly having enormous fun in telling the story in words and music. Likely, the audience had never heard such sparkling jazz arrangements of songs like “Love, You Didn’t Do Right by Me” (Berlin), “Just One of Those Things” (Porter), and “There Will Never Be Another You” (Warren & Gordon). Ponzio, Greenfield, and Hubbard enjoyed leisurely solos, producing an ever enveloping glow as the evening moved on. - Jerry Osterberg, American Popular Song Society

October 12: Jazz combo: Kathryn Allyn on vocals, Frank Ponzio on piano, Tom Hubbard on bass, Hayes Greenfield on sax, all superb and elaborately ornamental. Out comes this pretty lady with a martini dry wit and delivery to match. She proceeds to tell a humiliating story from her past. (Includes wisecracking cops, chill bankers and sexy con men.) The story is funny and would be brief, except that every pause is an opportunity to insert a song, each in a different style.  Eighteen songs (from Irving Berlin to Cole Porter to Clifford Brown to Randy Newman to Willie Nelson to NYC songwriters Bill Zeffiro and Rosemary Loar), with vocal and instrumental jazz riffs at appropriate moments.  It only becomes clear near the end that this is a story about the end of a marriage. ("He was a nice guy ... his name escapes me ...) So the whole thing lasts 90 minutes though it feels like much less because: variety and besides, she can sing.  And you get your money's worth of singing, jazzing, combo-ing and food and drink. (Best burger in a WHILE. My date had the scallops.) Next performances are November 16 and December 21, at Café Noctambulo. - John Yohalem, www.cafeteriarusticana.com

| JAZZ |

 

INDESTRUCTIBLE:
REMEMBERING ANITA O'DAY

When Kathryn Allyn took the stage at The Cutting Room last Tuesday night, she was all va-va-voom in a curve-hugging Valentine red dress….She joined her crackerjack band-musical director Frank Ponzio, bassist Tom Hubbard, and drummer Vito Leszack-to perform homage to Anita O'Day…Throughout the show, Allyn delivered a wealth of personal and musical history about O'Day with an intelligence and conversational style that was like taking a master class at your bestie's kitchen table…Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Skylark" ... mingled pleasantly in my ears with the ice water clinking in the carafe at the next table.  Leszack brushed the snare and cymbals, creating a sandy windswept sound as Allyn sang, without pretension, a gentle, lovely version...She followed with "Moody's Mood for Love," a vocalese set to an improvised jazz saxophone solo played by James Moody...Allyn proceeded to slay this beast with virtuosic agility. There was something transporting about the evening…[Allyn] magnetized me into a world of musicianship and subtle but deep passion.” Remy Block, BroadwayWorld.com

V IS FOR VICTORY DISC:
DOING IT FOR DEFENSE

Singer Kathryn Allyn, with a huge assist from musical director, co-arranger (with Allyn) and pianist Frank Ponzio, stands ready to educate us on the subject of V-Discs in this musically superb set of early 1940s period songs...Tom Hubbard on bass, Hayes Greenfield on saxophone and Scott Neumann on drums ... are splendid contributors to the proceedings.  Allyn sings in a strong, sure voice and internalizes lyrics well beyond her years. When she does a number associated with ...Jo Stafford, Martha Tilton, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Allyn doesn't impersonate them, but does give a slight suggestion of their styles. Only when she summons up Ethel Merman singing "Why Do They Call a Private a Private?" does Allyn go all out in delicious imitation.
 - Robert Windeler, BistroAwards.com

Particularly strong performances were heard in “Mood Indigo,” “You Go to My Head” and "Mood Indigo”... The phrasing was luxurious, and backed by her superb band - Ponzio (piano), Tom Hubbard (bass), Hayes Greenfield (sax), and Scott Neumann (drums) - she conveyed the atmosphere of a dark and smoky gin joint."... With the relaxed pacing of a catchy samba, Allyn was at once assertive and flirty... has a powerful voice, a wide range, a satirical sense of humor, presence, directness and sex appeal.  The attractive, smart and talented singer appears to be on the path toward becoming a full-fledged member of the jazz community. - Jerry Osterberg, Cabaret Scenes

PLAYING HARD TO GET:   Kathryn Allyn has the sort of smoky velvet soprano that sounds too natural, too unforced to have been operatically trained. In fact, there are many operatic credits to her name, but that hasn’t cut her off from her Kansas City roots and the “dirty blues” that singers with big, far less perfect voices used to shout in the dives of that city before and through the Second World War. Her program at the Triad of fine, forgotten tunes from that era provides the sensuous pleasure of Jo Stafford, the moody nuance of Billie Holiday, the jazzy energy of Betty Hutton in songs recorded by those ladies, but with a sassy wink and a toss of hip that make them Miss Allen’s own. In an era that has forgotten the fun of double-entendre, she knows how to be subtle and sexy and musical all at one time. --John Yohalem, Parterre Box.

| classical |



MALCOLM (LA DONNA DEL LAGO),
OPERA ORCHESTRA NEW YORK

For all the excellence of [the] singers, it was Kathryn Friest [Allyn] in the pants role of Malcolm who won the audience. Every time she came onstage, she knocked off another amazing vocal feat of fioritura, embellishment, or expressive slow singing. Her voice has that richly creamy mezzo sound that at times hints at true alto quality. Yet she nailed high notes in the range of all sopranos... Since Malcolm is the young love interest of Elena, the music is meant to suggest the same bravura as the two "older" tenors show. As fabulously as they sang, she did them one better.”  —Daniel Vezza,Classical New Jersey Society Journal


CARMEN, ANCHORAGE OPERA

Saucy vixen Carmen, played by the comely Kathryn Allyn, coupled the fiery gypsy thing with that old borderline personality man-eater behavior that would ruin any guy lucky enough to ... And her voice wasn't bad either!" —Mark Muro, Anchorage Daily News Online


ROSALIND (THE MINES OF SULPHUR),
NEW YORK CITY OPERA

Kathryn Friest [Allyn], was a vocally lustrous earful.” —David Patrick Stearns, The Philadelphia Enquirer


PRINCE ORLOVSKY (DIE FLEDERMAUS),
SYRACUSE OPERA

Kathryn [Allyn] was the most lovable, perhaps, of all characters, mixing a thick Russian accent (delivered with magnificent diction) with a rich mezzo that dazzled the ears, particularly in her whimsical aria 'Chacun a son gout'.”—David Abrams, Syracuse Post-Standard

TEODATA (FLAVIO),
NEW YORK CITY OPERA

In spite of a costume that resembled a cupcake, Allyn provided luxurious vocalism, good looks and theatrical poise...”—Opera News Online

NIKLAUSSE/THE MUSE
(LES CONTES D'HOFFMANN),

PALM BEACH OPERA

As the Muse who masquerades as Nicklausse, Kathryn Friest [Allyn] was note-perfect, providing the most satisfying performance of the night. The petite mezzo was a consistently engaged and charismatic presence and sang with a clear, well-focused tone, making the famous Act 3 Barcarolle bloom beautifully.”  — Lawrence A. Johnson, The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel


ALOES (L'ETOILE),
NEW YORK CITY OPERA

Kathryn Friest [Allyn] was the stylishly sung, grandly libidinous Aloès.” — M. Lignana Rosenberg, Opera News


ARIODANTE,
NEW YORK CHAMBER OPERA

...most impressively sung and acted by Kathryn [Allyn]....[she] served as the vocal and histrionic backbone of the performances, displaying a richly burnished voice, wide vocal range, and excellent coloratura technique.” —Howard J. Levin, OnlineReview