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Karin Plato: Jazz Vocals North by Northwest

Christopher Loudon reviews latest album from Canadian jazz singer

Karin Plato
Karin Plato

If your familiarity with British Columbian vocalists is limited to Diana Krall and Michael Bublé, then it’s time you got to know Karin Plato. Though she has been based out of Vancouver for a quarter-century, Plato wasn’t actually born in B.C. She hails from a tiny farming community called Alsask, the name derived from its location on the Saskatchewan-Alberta border. Plato’s passion for jazz singing prompted the move west to Vancouver in 1985, where she earned degrees in jazz and arranging at Capilano College. A decade later, first in 1996 and again in ’98, she continued her schooling at the esteemed Banff Centre for the Fine Arts, studying vocal jazz under two of the world’s foremost experts, Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan.

Just prior to her first Banff session, Plato made her recording debut with the aptly-title Pastiche, an eclectic mix of covers and originals that fully showcased the rich fullness of her voice. Over the next seven years, four more albums followed. Apart from the 2000 Christmas release Snowflake Season, each followed a similar pattern: a well-chosen balance of ballads and up-tempo standards mixed with a few laudable originals. Her fifth CD, 2003’s The State of Bliss also featured several duets with another underappreciated Canadian vocalist, Nat “King” Cole sound-alike Denzel Sinclaire.

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