Jean Carn, a vocalist with Washington roots and a peripheral association with jazz, proved herself an eclectic and dynamic performer in the second show Tuesday night at Blues Alley, where she and her trio stay through Sunday.
In her first area club appearance in several years, Carn projected a startlingly altered stage presence from her customary concert hall persona, which has often been on the garish side. Tuesday night she established an individual rapport with her audience that was vibrant and largely unaffected. Toward the set's end she even persuaded a female patron to join her on the bandstand, promising to teach her a "scientific set of notes" that would make her an instant vocalist--and nearly suffering an upstaging in the process, so lithesome was her willing pupil.
Pop, funk, Latin and a nearly straightforward "Ain't Misbehavin' " were represented in the varied program, but only "Dindi," an Onaje Allan Gumbs composition, approached the John Coltrane-influenced materials that Carn was noted for a decade and more ago. "My Love Don't Come Easy," made a national hit with the help of D.C. radio stations, was one of several tunes she boogied. Her accompanists, pianist Bill Joiner, electric bassist Sigmund Dillard and drummer Reginald Brisbane, maintained a freewheeling, supportive style that matched the leader's ebullience.