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  • Jonathan Widran

JACKIE ALLEN, A Romantic Evening With Jackie Allen

With a versatile, wanderlust driven stylistic palette that’s long taken her beyond her jazz foundations to explore everything from New Orleans blues and Kansas City jazz to gospel, funk, pop, rock, you name it, a live performance is literally the only way to fully capture the expansive musical artistry of veteran vocal interpreter extraordinaire Jackie Allen.

Capping a decades long, still thriving career, she shares everything in her emotional arsenal on A Romantic Evening with Jackie Allen, a chronicle of a transcendent night Live at the Rococo in Lincoln, Nebraska (homme base now for the Chicago bred singer and her husband and bassist Hans Sturm) presented as both a standalone CD and a two-disc Blu-ray and CD package. The concert has also aired on some PBS stations across the country.

However you choose to experience this magical performance, it’s a breathtaking, thrill a minute ride, propelled by her Chicago based band and the always brilliant and inventive Bob Sheppard on tenor, soprano and flute. The sheer variety of songs from across the pop and jazz landscape is breathtaking, from her gospelly, funked up twist on “You Are So Beautiful” and piano vamp fired stroll through “The Way You Do The Things You Do” to the mystical African-tinged, flute spiced “Lazy Afternoon” and a whimsical, meter-shifting spin on Duke Ellington’s “Daydream.”

Allen brings so many unexpected colors to the mix, rolling into full-on samba groove mode for “My Funny Valentine” while playing it cool and restrained on her exquisite “This Guy’s In Love With You.” The song she closes with, a spirited, soul-drenched arrangement of “Nobody Does It Better” was created for a James Bond film but could easily apply to Allen’s nonpareil mastery when it comes to bringing songs, both classic/instantly recognizable and obscure, to fresh new life.

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