Kurt Elling: Live In Chicago
Reaching back into history, Elling and Jon Hendricks spin vocalese on "Don’t Get Scared," coolly supplying all the tricks of the trade. On "Goin’ to Chicago" Hendricks sings standard blues lyrics while Elling "goes off" with vocalese as if he were a spontaneous trumpeter filling phrase endings. Sting’s composition "Oh My God" swings with a dramatic spirit and a lyric message about world harmony. Lending a natural feeling, Kahil El’Zabar’s hand drums bolster Elling’s emotional fever. Scat singing Russell Ferrante’s "Downtown" with as much animation as the Yellowjackets in concert, the singer works in unison with piano to a bebop arrangement. With one of his other specialties during "The Rent Party," Elling espouses beat poetry to introduce Von Freeman as he and the singer "converse;" then, Ed Peterson, who drives the mood emotionally wild and crazy; and finally Eddie Johnson, who wails it (as Elling describes it to the audience) "buttery and warm." The three tenors then jam with the ensemble and carry that mood over to the final track. Throughout the session, Laurence Hobgood matches Elling’s intensity, tossing out a few muscular keyboard strikes. Equally vital to the live session’s magnetic draw are lyrical bassist Rob Amster and scrambling drummer Michael Raynor. Every track on Elling’s highly recommended latest album is a gem. The combination of his natural vocal timbre and the singer’s "out there" postmodern ideas makes his future bright and ready for a wider audience.
Record Label: Blue Note Records