Karrin Allyson and her KC All Stars

Karrin Allyson – vocals
Stan Kessler – trumpet/flugel horn
Miro Sprague – piano and Rhodes
Gerald Spaits – bass
Todd Strait – drums

June 12, 2017 – 7:30pm

Karrin Allyson – “If there’s a choir in heaven, someday the exquisite vocalist Karrin Allyson will
lead it. She’s such an otherworldly talent that the creator probably already has her on heavy rotation.”
Well, no worries, mate, Karrin Allyson will be part of this earthly choir for a very long time. But she is moving on, after a jam-packed career with Concord Jazz — thirteen albums, four Grammy
nominations, and a recent self-produced holiday album, Yuletide Hideaway that won four stars from
In May of 2015, as part of a new agreement with Motema Records, Karrin heads back into the
recording studio with for a very intimate look at the music of Rodgers and Hammerstein. For Karrin, who actually played Nelly Forbush in a production of South Pacific as a teenager this album is a return. “I’ve been all around the world musically, from bop and bossa and chanson to blues and singer-songwriters. And now, I feel like coming home. I find myself powerfully drawn to the world of Rodgers and Hammerstein.”
“Why? Well, the tunes for starters, gorgeous melodies, near perfect lyrics, music that begs to be sung. Music filled with innocence, optimism, a confident can-do response to any problem, an appealing wiseguy humor, a sense that we all belong together on this wonderful planet. So, Rodgers & Hammerstein in very spare, honest settings — just a singer, telling the story with two masterful partners, the magisterial pianist Kenny Barron and the superb bassist John Pattituci, underlining and extending.”
Karrin lives in New York City, following a childhood in the midwest, schooling in the Bay Area, a degree in classical piano performance and important stints in Minneapolis and Kansas City, where she began her recording career with Concord Jazz. Karrin currently spends two days out of three on tour, playing the major jazz festivals, concert venues and clubs of the U.S. and making repeated tours overseas — to Brazil, Japan, Australia and the great cities of Europe. Throughout 2014 Allyson was featured as solo vocalist in the Newport —Now 60 Tour which played in thirty cities across the US and Canada before concluding the 2014 Newport Festival.
Among musicians, Karrin is known as a great bandleader and one of the deep pleasures of the current scene is listening to her highly developed interplay with her bandmates — it sounds so effortless — but it conceals a deep musical sophistication. It’s one of Allyson’s great achievements — the result of working over the years with an ensemble of fearless and powerfully committed jazz virtuosi. Karrin has also developed a unique relationship with the multi-talented L.A. composer Chris Caswell and the two have collaborated for nearly ten years as composers and performers in a very spirited ensemble featuring Caswell on Hammond B-3 organ. In fact, Karrin has been doing a lot of writing of late and promises an album of original songs in the near future.
It’s no surprise that music lovers and critics around the world have been singing Allyson’s name from the roof tops, marveling at the range of this extraordinary musician, who moves with such ease and authority from the Great American Songbook of Gershwin and Porter to the Great American Jazz Songbook of Duke and Thelonious and Miles and Dizzy, jet-setting to Rio and Paris and swinging back home to pick up Bonnie Raitt and Joni Mitchell and Jimmy Webb. What unites this wide world of music — brings it together and makes sense of it all — is Karrin Allyson’s warmth and depth. She’s not just singing a lyric, she’s telling you her story. And then that becomes your story. You hear the music from the inside out.
Listen to the legendary jazz critic Gary Giddins in The Village Voice: “Allyson coolly stakes her claim. She brings a timbre that is part ice and part grain — incisive, original, and emotionally convincing.” Heart, intelligence, warmth — an emotional range from bittersweet to sassy —you hear it every time you listen. Make no mistake — Karrin Allyson is singing to you.

Stan Kessler is a Trumpet / Flugelhorn Player, Band Leader, Clinician, and Educator in the Kansas City area. He also does extensive writing and arranging for smallgroups. Stan also plays drums and hand percussion.

For the last 40 years, Stan has been a member of every kind of group you couldimagine. He has led such bands as Stan Kessler and the Flat Five, Eightball, and BabyLeroy. His expertise includes Jazz, R&B, Funk, and all Latin genres, especially Brazilianand Afro-Cuban.
He is currently leading The Sons of Brasil (25 years), The Stan Kessler Quartet(23 years), Stan Kessler’s TV (3 years), HoraceScope (7 years) and The UncertaintyPrinciple (1 year), Passport (5 years), Parallax, (4 years).
For 15 years Stan has maintained an adjunct position at The University ofMissouri at Kansas City in Jazz trumpet, theory and improvisation, and music businessclasses. For 10 years Stan has been on faculty of KC Youth Jazz and Metro JazzWorkshop.
In 1980, Stan was Assistant Director of the Jazz ensemble and combo instructorat UMKC. He was voted Best Trumpet Player and Leader of the Best Jazz Band (SOBs)in KC by the Pitch Readers’ Poll. Stan was deemed Musician of The Year by bloggerPlastic Sax in 2013. He has appeared in concert with Clark Terry, Paquito D’Rivera, ErnieWatts, Gary Foster, Karrin Allyson, Steve Cardenas, Kevin Mahogany, Bobby Watson,John Clayton, Kim Park, Matt Otto and many others.

Miro Sprague is a pianist, composer and bandleader known for his dynamic performance style and inspiring creativity. He has toured the U.S, Europe, Japan and the Middle East, working with many jazz masters including Wayne Shorter, Jerry Bergonzi, Matt Wilson and Reggie Workman among others. Miro is a graduate of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance and the Manhattan School of Music and has studied with Jason Moran, Larry Goldings, Billy Childs, Hal Crook and James Newton among others. Miro leads his own trio and quintet and frequently performs as a solo piano concerts. He has released four studio albums including his latest release, “Blue Dreaming”. Miro has been playing with Karrin Allyson since 2016.



Gerald Spaits, a native of Kansas City, is one of the foremost bass players in the Kansas City area. Spaits has enjoyed an active career including playing with jazz legends Jay McShann and Claude “Fiddler” Williams. Appearing with national recording artists Herb Ellis, Karrin Allyson, Marilyn Maye, Gary Foster, and The Woody Herman Orchestra,among others. He has performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the San Jose Jazz Festival, and the World’s Fair in Seville, Spain. Mr. Spaits is the adjunct assistant professor of jazz string bass at the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and leads a bass ensemble at UMKC. He also teaches private lessons.

Gerald is involved in the development and creation of many bands and projects. Composing and arranging for groups including The Gerald Spaits Trio, The Gerald Spaits Quartet, The Westport Art Ensemble, The Kansas City Bass Quartet and his latest project Sax and Violins, a combination of string quartet and jazz quartet.

Gerald has released albums on his own label PASSIT productions including “Three Sides,” “The Westport Art Ensemble,” “Westport Art Ensemble live,”  and two albums by KC jazz pianist Russ Long: “Never Let me Go” and “Time to Go.”  Gerald has also written instruction books for jazz bass and written arrangements for everything from Big Band to Solo Bass.

Todd Straight

Todd Straight was raised in Topeka, KS, and became involved in music in elementary school playing trumpet and drums. Eventually braces pushed the trumpet out of the picture and it’s been drums ever since.

Todd began gigging locally while still in 7th grade, mainly with his father’s group. During his last year of high school he became involved in the 1979 “Louie Bellson/Slingerland National Drum Contest” where he eventually finished in second place at the Las Vegas finals. The scholarships gained from this experience enabled Todd to pursue his dream of moving to the NYC area and studing with Ed Soph in 1980.

Upon relocating to the east coast Todd free-lanced in and around NYC and the Tri-State area, then joined Marian McPartland’s trio in 1982 playing in New York City clubs and traveling occasionally with her across the country. In 1984 he also began playing with guitarists Tal Farlow and Barney Kessel. In ’86 he joined Woody Herman’s Thundering Herd for a 3 month cross-country stint before returning to NYC.

1990 found Todd relocated to Kansas City where a string of important connections were born. Besides gigging in KC and St. Louis with local favorites and visiting “stars”, Todd toured nationally and internationally with Kevin Mahogany from 1995 until 2000, with Karrin Allyson 1995 until 2009, and with Eldar from 1999 until 2008 (See the discography page for related recordings, 3 of which were Grammy Nominees).

In 2002 Todd relocated again, this time to Portland, OR. A typical year of travel consisted of between 200-250 days on the road (between tours with either Eldar or Karrin) so Todd was not around Portland much those first 7 and a half years. But in mid 2009 he finally decided to change gears and stay put for awhile.

Now he is enjoying being away from airplanes and playing with local greats such as PDXV, Greg Goebel’s Trio, Warren Rand, Dan Balmer, and Randy Porter, among many other wonderful musicians in Portland and Seattle. Todd is also building a student base here in Portland. Besides serving as adjunct drumset instructor for UMKC in Kansas City,MO, from 1990-2002, Todd has been a faculty member for several summer jazz camps across the country over the last 20 years and is looking forward to his 10th consecutive year at the KU Jazz Camp in Lawrence, Kansas, this summer. Last year he joined the staff of YMA (Young Musicians and Artists) which holds two week sessions on the campus of Willamette University in Salem, OR. He will continue to serve as one of several adjunct drumset instructors at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham, OR, during the school year as he has since 2003.