Effervescent New York chanteuse Karrin Allyson opened a four-night stand to a full house at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley Thursday in a relaxed, bluesy mood, mixing crowd favorites with some stimulating new material.
Allyson has produced a brilliant body of recorded work for Concord since 1992, but is also pushing forward creatively.
Thursday, wearing a red skirt with an asymmetrical black tunic and long necklace, Allyson and her quartet introduced fans to some new songs in the singer-songwriter vein, with lyrics by songwriting partner Chris Caswell.
After a lively segment that included Caswell’s clever lyric to Nat Adderley’s “Never Say Yes,” Mose Allison’s sardonic “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” and Irving Berlin’s jaunty “Isn’t This A Lovely Day?” — a nod, she said, to Ella Fitzgerald’s and Louis Armstrong’s classic version — Allyson moved to the piano.
Playing slow gospel chords under her power ballad “As Long As I Know You Love Me,” which by all rights should be in heavy radio rotation, she filled the room with that sweetly hoarse voice, with just the hint of a vulnerable cry at its edge.
“I can do anything,” she sang, drawing the whole room into the quiet, intimate space between her and the keyboard, “as long as I know you love me.”
On another original with a bouncy lilt, “Some of That Sunshine,” she imparted blues-infused skepticism, advising folks to “wrap up some of that sunshine” for a rainy day, because “just when you think trouble’s over, there’s more.”
Allyson is inarguably a jazz singer — her body swayed interpretively as she delivered a metrically playful version of John Coltrane’s “Lazy Bird” — but she draws from the Joni Mitchell well, too. Her finger-popping take on Mitchell’s “All I Want,” with its flip piano vamp, had a tasty tang; she nailed the yearning plaint of Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon’s a Harsh Mistress.”
At the end of her set, Allyson daringly asked for requests — always a gamble. But the choice was a unanimous endorsement of her mood — the Bobby Timmons soul classic “Moanin’.”
Allyson and her band — Bruce Barth (piano), Rod Fleeman (guitar), Jeff Johnson (bass) and Todd Strait (drums) — play through Sunday. Even if you’ve seen her many times before, you haven’t seen the show she’s doing now.
7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 2, at Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley, 2033 Sixth Ave., Seattle; $24.50 (206-441-9729 or jazzalley.com).