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Vocalist Karrin Allyson Revisits A Favorite Musical Destination With 'A Kiss For Brazil,' Releasing May 17 On Origin Records

Vocalist Karrin Allyson Revisits A Favorite Musical Destination With 'A Kiss For Brazil,' Releasing May 17 On Origin Records

Courtesy Jim O'Keefe


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I didn't know what I was going to do with the recordings [with Rosa Passos]. Maybe they would just be for posterity. I just knew I had to document the music.
—Karrin Allyson
Karrin Allyson
Vocalist, pianist, and composer Karrin Allyson writes the long-awaited next chapter in her series of love letters to Brazil on the aptly titled A Kiss for Brazil, to be released May 17 by Origin Records. The sequel to 1999’s From Paris to Rio and 2008’s Imagina: Songs of Brasil adds a bold spice to the sauce: Brazilian singer, guitarist, and national treasure Rosa Passos appears on two songs alongside Allyson and all-star accompanists Vitor Gonçalves (piano, Rhodes, accordion), Yotam Silberstein (guitar), Harvie S (bass), and Rafael Barata (drums).

The collaboration with Passos was the seed from which the album bloomed. Brazilian music is one of the through-lines in Allyson’s distinguished career, going all the way back to the rendition of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Insensatez” on her 1993 debut I Didn’t Know About You. The two singers are friends as well as mutual fans, and when Allyson learned that Passos would be visiting New York in March 2023, she arranged a recording session for the two of them.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do with the recordings,” she recalls. “Maybe they would just be for posterity. I just knew I had to document the music.”

What had originally been planned for just two songs stretched into a full album when the band—all, save for Allyson and S, Brazilian musicians—sounded too good to let go so quickly. Allyson led them through eight more tunes, including works by such titans as Djavan, Ivan Lins, and Luiz Bonfá as well as Jobim.

As you might expect, the record quickly took on a life of its own. There’s no indication of an afterthought in “The Gift (Recado Bossa Nova),” performed by all and sundry with terrific precision and topped off with Allyson’s effortless vocal nuance—or in “Flor de Lis” and “Manhã de Carnaval,” both of which she sings in flawless Portuguese as well as English. Her tender turn on Lins’s “The Island” is similarly impeccable, not to mention the beautifully intimate duo of Allyson (who also plays piano) and S on Benny Carter and Sammy Cahn’s “Only Trust Your Heart.”

Still, her duets with Passos remain at the heart of A Kiss for Brazil. On Jobim’s ballad “O Grande Amor,” the Brazilian singer handles the Portuguese lyrics in her inimitable contralto, Allyson’s velvet alto following her with the English words. The vocalists’ lively, co-written “Month of March in Salvador (Dunas)” not only lets each singer show off their rhythmic chops, but has them engage with each other in delightful, traded scat phrases. Even with Passos appearing only twice, the album ends up a triumph for her as well as for Allyson.

A child of the American Heartland, Karrin Allyson was born July 27, 1962, in Great Bend, Kansas; grew up in Omaha, Nebraska; and began her career in Minneapolis and Kansas City. Her father was a Lutheran minister, her mother a classical music teacher, and Karrin accordingly began her musical journey playing classical piano and singing in church.

She was a classical piano major at University of Nebraska Omaha, but by then her soundscape had widened: She fronted an all-girl rock band called Tomboy, played at a local piano bar, and sang in a jazz swing choir. It was jazz that ultimately won her heart, and she pursued it in Minneapolis and Kansas City. It was in the latter—the jazz mecca that bequeathed Count Basie and Charlie Parker to the world—that she recorded her first self-produced album, I Didn’t Know About You, in 1992 and, when it was picked up by Concord Records, saw it become a surprise runaway success.

Though she recorded eight more albums in Kansas City, inevitably New York came calling. Her first recording in the Apple, 2000’s Ballads: Remembering John Coltrane, placed her alongside the likes of James Carter, James Williams, John Patitucci, and Lewis Nash, for whom she proved more than a match. Over the years she continued collaborating with giants-cum-equals, including Mulgrew Miller, Jon Hendricks, Kenny Barron, and Regina Carter (who was featured on Karrin’s all-original CD Some of That Sunshine in 2018). Karrin continues to write, and she put out two original singles—“Falling Up” and “Just Passin’ Through”—in 2024.

A longtime devotee of Brazilian music, Allyson recorded From Paris to Rio, her first album of Brazilian and French songs, while still living in Kansas City in 1999. She followed it up nearly a decade later with Imagina: Songs of Brasil. A Kiss for Brazil continues not only that tradition, but—in collaborating with Rosa Passos—the one in which she holds her own with the greats of the music.

Karrin Allyson was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2023 and will be inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame on April 20, 2024. Her upcoming concert schedule includes: 5/10-11 Green Mill, Chicago; 6/21 Twin Cities Jazz Festival, St. Paul, MN; 6/25-26 Jazz Alley, Seattle; 6/30 Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society, Half Moon Bay, CA; 7/12-13 Catalina’s, Los Angeles; 9/21 Folly Theater, Kansas City, MO; 10/29-11/2 Birdland, NYC.

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Track Listing

Flor de Lis; Month of March in Salvador (Dunas); The Gift (Recado Bossa Nova); O Grande Amor; Antigua; The Island; Manha de Carnaval; So Many Stars; Wave; Only Trust Your Heart.


Harvie S
bass, acoustic
Rosa Passos
guitar and vocals
Additional Instrumentation

Vitor Gonçalves: accordion

Album information

Title: A Kiss for Brazil | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Origin Records






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