Cadence Magazine, March 2004
by Jerome Wilson
Karin Plato is a Canadian singer who's been around for a few years, judging from these three CD's, the earliest which goes back to 1998. These three, out of five she's recorded chart her progress as a singer and songwriter.
There's Beauty In The Rain, the earliest of the trio, is a straightforward vocal set with Plato singing in front of a small jazz combo. Plato shows a fine direct and swinging vocal style here, really leaning into the rhythms of her material. It's no surprise that she studied under Sheila Jordan. She has absorbed some of Jordan's soul and does "Hum Drum Blues." A song from Jordan's classic Blue Note album. "Hum Drum Blue" shows off the force of Plato's voice while "Mountain Greenery" and "Joy Spring" show her ability to really fly with a melody and imitate horn changes. Another point of interest is that Plato writes some of her own material. Here there's "Innocent Again," a piano ballad that wanders about Bill Evans-like with no real melody, but shows how Plato can caress a slow song, and "Beauty In The Rain" and "You Give Me The Blues", two slices of blusey Hard Bop that Plato sings with authority and sass while saxophonists Campbell Ryga and Bill Abbott make firm statements.
Blue Again, from 2000, is a more varied album where Plato sings in duet with her bassist Torben Oxbol and various guitarists. She shows her brassy, sexy side again with Oxbol, especially on a wicked version of "Two To Tango" that is almost as good as the famous Ray Charles-Betty Carter version. With other partners the mood changes. She doeS two well-known Jobim bossa novas with Celso Machado with subtlety and respect for the song's lovely rhythms. When guitarist Bill Coon plays thoughtful electric guitar with a country flavor in the Herb Ellis manner, she tones it down, but still sings strongly, wailing on her original, "Blue Again," and coming on smooth and heart-tugging on "No Moon At All" and "Fools Rush In". Oliver Gannon has a brighter sound with heavier chords reminiscent of Jim Hall's sound and his duets with Plato are more rhythmic. She follows his playing very closely on Irving Berlin's ancient waltz, "What'll I Do?" and "Spring Will Be A Little Late This Year." This is a really good display of Plato's singing range and the best of these three CD's.
The State Of Bliss is the most recent of the three. It features a couple of nice duets with male singer, Denzal Sinclaire, who has a bit of Nat King Cole in his voice. It also has a great punchy uptempo work on "Up With The Lark" and "Blue Room", six Plato compositions that range from folk to jazz and an excellent slow, swinging duet with bassist Steve Holy on "My Favorite Things." What it lacks is the earthy, belting quality found on the earlier records. Plato's singing is still excellent and a bit more refined, but she doesn't really cut loose on anything but "Big Black Crow." The last half of the CD is so uniformly dreamt and dewy-eyed it gets a bit boring. It's a bit disappointing to hear her bleach all the blues feeling out of Vince Guaraldi's "Cast Your Fate To The Wind." The record is called The State Of Bliss so I guess this sound is to be expected. I just hope it doesn't signal a permanent change in direction for Plato. I'd hate to see her drop her belting side.