Jonathan Karrant is one of the rare crooners of cool, born to sing and swing with style — and that he did, better than ever.
He opened with a striking, up-tempo version of “Moondance” (Van Morrison), with unique phrasing on a swinging jazz arrangement. On keys with monster talent was Mahesh Balasooriya who absolutely set the tone for the show with more notes per second than humanly possible. It takes a strong vocalist to stand up to this incendiary playing, and Karrant had the chops to regain his momentum after the solo, tagging with “I just want to make some moonlight with you.”
On “No Moon at All” (Dave Mann/Redd Evans), he conveyed all of his natural charm, showcased his ability to scat, and John B. Williams on bass offered a warm solo. Karrant was believable, enchanting and grounded with the lyrics on Jobim/de Oliveira’s “Dindi,” his voice more melodic than ever.
I’ve witnessed Karrant’s trajectory for a few years now, and I was thrilled to observe his now very polished, touching and mature storytelling of “Mr. Bojangles” (Jerry Jeff Walker). The audience, though light, was fully entranced. Adding to the mood was the “tap dancing” of drum sticks by Roy McCurdy. It was magical (both Williams and McCurdy are Living Legends of Jazz).
“Love for Sale” (Cole Porter) was swung with intensity, and it seemed to belong to the band more than the singer, leaving lyrics not the best served. Contrary to it was Karrant’s brilliant, tender, and evocative “Imagine” (John Lennon), capturing the hearts of all with his unexpected choices and the shared exchange with Williams.
Annie Ross would’ve smiled broadly as Karrant absolutely nailed “Twisted” (Ross/Wardell Gray) and Balasooriya twisted a remarkable solo around his fingers. There were more thrilling moments in the show, but Karrant was never more connected as his eyes shined in “(I’m Afraid) The Masquerade Is Over” (Allie Wrubel/Herb Magidson).
It appears that his recent tutelage under both Marilyn Maye and Kurt Elling has made a huge impact. Find Karrant in New York City at all the usual places that swing and enjoy an evening of the real deal.
Check out Caberet Scenes @ http://cabaretscenes.org/2016/06/17/jonathan-karrant-an-evening-with-jonathan-karrant/