Kurt Elling: Passion World" Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts Perelman Theater Philadelphia, PA October 5, 2014 Kurt Elling has repeatedly proved his mettle as a vocalist, accumulating so many Downbeat awards and Grammy nominations that it seems superfluous to once again critique any of his performances. One can only say, Ditto, he's done it again." But, because he keeps developing his scope, it's always worth taking a new look. A telescopic perspective can help. The last time this reviewer saw Elling live was a decade ago ...read more
The Brill Building holds a special place in popular music history, not just because of the songs crafted within its walls, but also because of what it has come to represent. The ideal of the Brill Building is associated with songs that soundtrack the lives and loves of millions of people around the world. Singer Kurt Elling's tribute to that ideal, 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project, crackles with life as it connects with the emotions these songs engender.Elling's position at the top of the male jazz singers' tree has been unassailed for over a decade, topping the ...read more
Singer Kurt Elling seems to be always on the go, working with his fine quartet and lending his artful vocals to a variety of other projects as time allows. Whatever the situation, he brings high aesthetic values and standards. He likes to investigate different musical possibilities under the jazz umbrella, which he embraces without reservation.I don't deny it. I certainly identify that way," he says of being labeled a jazz singer. I feel that's the approach that I have to the music that I take on." Not all singers identify that way, even if it is obvious from ...read more
Where female jazz vocalists are plentiful, male jazz vocals exist in vast minority. With Mark Murphy in twilight, Kurt Elling has few peers in the realm of male jazz vocals where sheer inventiveness and muscularity are concerned. Elling's facility is one so great and his musical vision so clear that, at least for the time being, no one can touch him. He further establishes himself as the preeminent vocalist with the ambitious and successful 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project. Elling opens the recording with the quintessential Brill Building composition, On Broadway." Its story is a bit ...read more
Poetry has always been the libretto of jazz music. Even before epic works of the late Gil Scott Heron like H2O Gate Blues" or Winter in America" (which inspired the nations of rap and hip-hop), there was Langston Hughes with bassist Charles Mingus on Weary Blues (Verve, 1958), the great Amiri Baraka, and A.B. Spellman. Then there was Kenneth Patchen, one of The Rebel Poets of America, an enigmatic legend who, if he chose, might have laid claim to creating special arias in the realm of jazz. Not only did they pulse the meter of their verse around the beat ...read more
Jazz and poetry have a longstanding relationship that precedes the postwar experiments of the Beats, dating back to the Harlem Renaissance. As with any artistic collaboration, the cooperative efforts of improvising musicians and poets have yielded mixed results over the years. One of the first artists to successfully explore this territory (with John Cage and Charles Mingus) was Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972), a poet, novelist and painter whose innovative work ranges from political protest and sardonic humor to sentimental romance. In honor of Patchen's 100th birthday the University of Rochester commissioned forward-thinking composer John Hollenbeck's flagship ensemble, The Claudia Quintet, to ...read more
Kurt Elling The Gate Concord Music Group 2011 It's amazing how small age differences can impact on the music that resonates in our youth--experiencing it after the fact being so different than living in its time. For 43 year-old vocalist Kurt Elling, the music that reached his young, impressionable ears came from sources as diverse as Earth, Wind & Fire's I Am (Columbia, 1979) , the early-1980s incarnation of King Crimson and Discipline (DGM Live, 1981), and the post-new wave reinvention of Joe Jackson's classic Night and Day (A&M, 1982). And jazz, of ...read more
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