Kurt Elling – 18/11/08 QEH, LJF

During one of the evening’s many spoken interludes, Kurt Elling, lyrics in hand, speaks in awe of an album recorded in one take - without rehearsal. An album, a precious gem in the repertoire of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, that Elling is interpreting in concert form along with co-producer, arranger and pianist Laurence Hobgood. It works, for the performance is as flawless as the original collaboration was. Elling brings 1963 New Jersey to the Queen Elizabeth Hall via the ‘Solid strings’ quartet, Ulysses Owens Jr on drums, Clark Sommers on bass and Bennie Maupin; whose own alliances only need recalling by first name, ‘McCoy, Herbie and Miles.’

The set is very much faithful to Coltrane’s recording but all is not commonplace in the standards that Elling so adores. Hobgood’s string arrangements are peppered with Bernard Hermann Hitchcock-era vibrato and pizzicato motifs while the percussion during, ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is,’ uses Latin phrasing. ‘Nancy (With the Laughing Face),’ ‘They Say It’s Wonderful,’ and ‘Lush Life’ with its hip lyrics, “To get the feel of life...from jazz and cocktails,” go down a treat. The arrangements are also fittingly autumnal, although Elling’s conquering vocals provide glistening decorations that hark more to the forthcoming festive season. His voice wields effortless vigor, a reverberating tornado that reels in and spins the audience delirious. Barely taking one deep breath, he pours out a lifetime’s worth of emotion.

Haunting yet equally comforting, the baritone voice ought to be patented as a new instrument. He competes with Maupin’s dulcet sax, soloing and scatting in unison, leaning on piano, hands in pockets, slick and confident, personifying the audacity of the project. The ensemble succeeds even when Elling is an admiring onlooker from the shadows. Owens Jr produces brush and rattlesnake qualities from his gentle sticks as part of an interchange with the quartet while crashing crescendos combined with Hobgood’s falling chords provide perfect fodder for the string’s prominence on ‘Bessie’s Blues.’ Elling is back with the pianist for the encore, Nat ‘King’ Cole’s, ‘I keep going back to Joe’s.’ With verbal references to Mark Murphy, Frank Sinatra and of course, Barack Obama, the night of musical treasures is steeped in the riches of American luminaries, Kurt Elling included.

Review - Daniel Merriman

The Write Stuff

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

ABJazzWise


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

The Matthew Herbert Brexit Big Band+choir will be steaming up to the Barbican for a full-on night on 23 Oct… https://t.co/41dfSj1o8c
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Instant Composers Pool Orchestra goes Dutch with UK and Ireland dates https://t.co/A1qJp9l5jG https://t.co/EqkYEtrOPH
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-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