Kurt Elling and Cécile McLorin Salvant dazzle at Cadogan Hall

In contemplating last weekend’s LJF gala events, I had every expectation of a perfect three-way vocal experience. First up it was to be Cécile McLorin Salvant on Saturday at Cadogan Hall, someone new to me but fresh and exciting, then the more familiar Allen Toussaint and his New Orleans songs at the Barbican on Sunday and finally, a day later, the unique Kurt Elling back again at Cadogan Hall. Sadly, as the whole world knows, Allen Toussaint passed away in Madrid following his concert appearance there and a house-full ticket refund was the outcome. This, given Cassandra Wilson’s difficult night at the RFH the same evening must have made Sunday a Serious nightmare, although director John Cumming assured me that other events that night more than made up for it.

Salvant is still young, and radiates a kind of innocent joy, taking each song on a journey of discovery, playing games with tempo and pitch and delighting in the entire concert experience. Clad in a cape-like throw striped in green and mauve, with black and white striped leggings, and wearing her trademark white-framed specs, she had dressed to kill and she did, evoking a continuous array of reactions from whoops to cheers and back again. Happily, for those of us who know her albums, she had her first-call band with her, notably the brilliant pianist Aaron Diehl, a man whose John Lewis-like classic touch and vivid imagination makes him an equal partner in the Salvant concert enterprise. Add in bassist Paul Sikivie and drummer Laurence Leathers and you have a compelling package that should continue to entrance international concertgoers for decades to come.  

She sings in French on some songs, these mostly self-composed, echoing her part-French origins and sounds sweet when she does, but it’s her evocations of classic songs that seem to prompt her most profound explorations. Just to hear her sing ‘I Wish I Could Shimmy’ at the slowest possible pace is enlightening as was the more suggestive ‘You Gotta Give Me Some’ from the Bessie Smith repertoire, Salvant arch and delighting in its in-built innuendo. This showed off Diehl’s stride chops and had the trio kicking hard, ahead of ‘Something Coming’ from West Side Story, again with the pianist’s filigree touch foregrounded. Salvant is the real deal, a vocalist who takes risks, listens to her accompanists and improvises irresistibly in the moment.

KurtElling MG 4579

Elling radiates bonhomie too, but is more theatrical, grittier maybe, his grey suit tightly buttoned, standing firm, like a Chicagoan should, hands outstretched, as that great tree-trunk of a baritone voice resonates and builds into an almost operatic series of crescendos. He had already made a guest appearance with The Swingles, the clever close-harmony group who opened for him. Here he commenced his set with a straight reading of ‘La Vie En Rose’ which seemed like a tribute to those who had lost their lives in Paris, before he let rip with ‘Come Fly With Me’, this featuring a lengthy, florid solo excursion by pianist/organist Stu Mindeman, the vocal ascending as the band built behind him, Elling moving way beyond Sinatra’s template. This was a bravura performance as was ‘Nature Boy’, the lyrics subtly changed, and suffused with a scat routine of quite dazzling virtuosity, with drummer Ulysses Owens Jr, matching him lick for lick.

There were speeches, even a burst of poetry and a sense of heartfelt concern for victims of violence everywhere from Elling, plus a modest plug for Passion World, his latest album, from which a number of these songs were drawn. ‘Skylark’, taken for another technically accomplished outing was the encore, before Elling bowed, the band (completed by bassist Clarke Sommers and the versatile guitarist John McLean) readying to move on to Helsinki on Tuesday. He’s a man of incredible, harnessed drive, huge vocal energy, and very possibly the finest jazz vocalist on the planet.

– Peter Vacher

– Photos by Roger Thomas

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Alexander Hawkins heads up Emulsion Fest Part VII

Alexander Hawkins heads up Emulsion Fest…

The seventh installment of the genre-busting Emulsion Festival is set...

Read More.....
Shirley Tetteh, Denys Baptiste and Ian Shaw among Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Shirley Tetteh, Denys Baptiste and Ian S…

The winners of the 14th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took...

Read More.....
Omar Puente and Steam Down Collective for Albany

Omar Puente and Steam Down Collective fo…

South London's longstanding music and arts venue, The Albany, has...

Read More.....
Up From The Vaults: Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet Albums Back on Vinyl

Up From The Vaults: Don Rendell/Ian Carr…

Long regarded as among the most notable and, in recent...

Read More.....
Georgia Mancio's triumphant triple bill at second Pizza Hang

Georgia Mancio's triumphant triple bill …

It's been something of an annus mirabilis for the vocalist...

Read More.....
Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, The Necks and Ambrose Akinmusire make moves at Mondriaan Jazz Fest

Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, The …

The second edition of the Mondriaan Jazz Festival takes place...

Read More.....
Black Top boogie on down for Sardinian Extravaganza

Black Top boogie on down for Sardinian E…

This exciting initiative taken by London-based vocalist Filomena Campus is...

Read More.....
UK Seers Foresee Future Homegrown Visions At Jazz In The Round's Emergence Fest

UK Seers Foresee Future Homegrown Vision…

Jazz In The Round promoters Chris Phillips and Jez Nelson...

Read More.....
Julian Siegel and Renegade Brass light up Limerick Jazz Festival

Julian Siegel and Renegade Brass light u…

This year's festival was perhaps short on surprises, compared to...

Read More.....
Dayes Of Future Past As Yussef Dazzles At Brighton's Haunt

Dayes Of Future Past As Yussef Dazzles A…

The bouncer outside is busy checking ID and handing out...

Read More.....
Gobbling Gourmet On Finnish Baltic Sea Jazz Cruise

Gobbling Gourmet On Finnish Baltic Sea J…

Most jazz cruises skim through moist Caribbean parts, proffering smooth...

Read More.....
New York group SUM premiere ‘Sinking Sand’ video

New York group SUM premiere ‘Sinking San…

Fast emerging New York group SUM bring together jazz, soul...

Read More.....
Claire Martin and Liane Carroll top JBGB autumn jazz line-up

Claire Martin and Liane Carroll top JBGB…

There's a busy jazz line-up at the Other Palace, PizzaExpress...

Read More.....
Guadeloupean Drummer Dolmen Goes For Gwoka At French Institute

Guadeloupean Drummer Dolmen Goes For Gwo…

The World Is Moving is an apt title for this...

Read More.....
Riot Jazz Brass Band for ISM Trust's The Empowered Musician Conference

Riot Jazz Brass Band for ISM Trust's The…

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) Trust are holding a...

Read More.....
Bishop Bones Up In Glasgow

Bishop Bones Up In Glasgow

Chicagoan trombonist Jeb Bishop (Vandermark 5/Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet/Globe Unity...

Read More.....
Szun Waves share new video for ‘Moon Runes’

Szun Waves share new video for ‘Moon Run…

Jazztronica trio Szun Waves have just released the video for...

Read More.....
Flying Machines Video Exclusive – ‘New Life’

Flying Machines Video Exclusive – ‘New L…

Guitarist Alex Munk returns in emphatic style with his hard-driving...

Read More.....
Elliot Galvin, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Fini Bearman for Elgar Room jazz fest nights

Elliot Galvin, Cherise Adams-Burnett and…

The Royal Albert Hall's venue-within-a-venue, The Elgar Room, has a...

Read More.....
EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice stars, Rymden and Jamie Baum for EFG London Jazz Fest

EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice…

The full programme for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila Maurice-Grey vibe up The Vortex

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila M…

There's a plethora of essential jazz nights lined up at...

Read More.....
Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2018 Nominees Announced

Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2018 Nominees …

The nominations have been announced for this year's Parliamentary Jazz...

Read More.....
Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet Video Premiere and Jazz Cafe Debut

Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet Video Premiere…

Polish bassist Wojtek Mazolewski brings his acclaimed Quintet to the...

Read More.....
Nils Petter Molvaer lights up Ystad Festival with magical dawn chorus

Nils Petter Molvaer lights up Ystad Fest…

For this year's Ystad jazz festival the spotlight was on...

Read More.....
Now Vs Now, Elephant9 and Geir Sundstøl shine at Punkt

Now Vs Now, Elephant9 and Geir Sundstøl …

As our world edges further into turmoil, the remote idyll...

Read More.....
Ray Carless wows with Windrush jazz celebration at The Vortex

Ray Carless wows with Windrush jazz cele…

The Windrush Scandal has been one of the biggest stories...

Read More.....
Shabaka Shakes Sons Loose At Saalfelden

Shabaka Shakes Sons Loose At Saalfelden

  Though Jazzfestival Saalfelden might not nestle between the likes of...

Read More.....
First Ever Jazz Survey Across The South Of England

First Ever Jazz Survey Across The South …

Following the announcement of the Arts Council England funding award...

Read More.....
Randy Weston 06/04/26 – 01/09/18

Randy Weston 06/04/26 – 01/09/18

Like several prominent African-American jazz artists, pianist Randy Weston, who...

Read More.....
Robert Mitchell Epiphany 3 for EP and tour

Robert Mitchell Epiphany 3 for EP and to…

Pianist Robert Mitchell releases a new five-track EP, Epiphany, on...

Read More.....
Hedvig Mollestad, Jo Berger Myhre and General Post Office shake up Oslo Jazz Festival

Hedvig Mollestad, Jo Berger Myhre and Ge…

When Oslo Jazz Festival was founded, back in 1986, it...

Read More.....
Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer and Paolo Fresu fire up Umbria Jazz 2018

Roy Hargrove, Vijay Iyer and Paolo Fresu…

This year was the 45th anniversary of Umbria Jazz and...

Read More.....
Cuong Vu’s Change In The Air with Bill Frisell – Video Preview

Cuong Vu’s Change In The Air with Bill F…

The September issue of Jazzwise is out now with an...

Read More.....
Birchall/Cheetham/Webster/Willberg Visit Vortex

Birchall/Cheetham/Webster/Willberg Visit…

Expect a bagful of bedlam when the free-wheeling Manchester/London-based quartet...

Read More.....
Sue Richardson lines up for inaugural Splash Point Jazz Fest

Sue Richardson lines up for inaugural Sp…

The first Splash Point Jazz Festival will take place in...

Read More.....
Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group

Jazz FM sold to Bauer Media Group

Jazz FM, which is broadcast nationally on DAB and recently...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

@mysterylesson Cattle Decapitation reissue?
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@_Phil_Julian Another militant🦏 session of Candy Crush?
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA