The Jazz Kitchen
Jazz vocalist Jackie Allen’s work is like a smooth drink with a couple of extra shots of the good stuff; it goes down nice and easy, but it’s got a hell of a kick at the end. Anyone who can jump from Ray Charles to Jimi Hendrix is playing with some serious range. “Anyone manic-depressive out there?" she asked. "This one’s for you!”
Allen performed two sets last Friday night through the dinner hours at the Jazz Kitchen. She really does perform perfect dinner music — zippy and catchy, the kind of stuff that fills the room but doesn’t overpower everything, and leaves you a little room to think and ponder, if that’s your sort of thing, or even talk a bit underneath the rhythms.
Her voice itself is remarkably silky-smooth, gliding up and down the scales with nary a lost moment — a world-weary songbird delivering news of the coming morning.
Of course, no jazz artist is complete without an excellent backing band, and Allen’s three-piece band is among the best, keeping up with every stylistic change and providing elegant, elaborate soundtracks throughout. Upright bassist Hans Sturm delivers all the standard jazz riffs, but also extraordinary breakdowns that are at once orchestral and Zeppelin-esque. And guitarist John Moulder blitzes right along from slow-and-steady into vaguely insane rock-and-roll riffs. Couldn’t ask for more on a quiet Friday night.