Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Kurt Elling With The Keith Ganz Trio at Jazz Standard

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Kurt Elling With The Keith Ganz Trio
Jazz Standard
New York, NY
July 31, 2016

If there's any genre of music that's truly built on the idea of spur-of-the-moment change, it's jazz. And so, in that very spirit, we had this performance.

The audience that came down to hear the inimitable Kate McGarry on this cool and humid summer night was swiftly reminded of the fact that things don't always work out as planned. McGarry, felled by flu-like symptoms in the midst of a two night stand at New York's Jazz Standard, was unable to go on as scheduled. But all was not lost. The trio working with the vaunted singer—guitarist Keith Ganz, bassist Sean Smith, and drummer Allison Miller—was still primed and ready to roll, and vocalist Kurt Elling generously came to the rescue. Apparently his talent is matched only by his kindness and benevolence.

The aforementioned trio kicked off the first of two sets with a pair of instrumental numbers before Elling joined the party. A waltzing "Emily" opened the show and proved to be the more impactful of the two, with Ganz quietly guiding the group, Smith providing stout support, and Miller going at it with intensity. The drummer, swinging with abandon, delivering roundhouse triplets, gleefully trading solos, and vamping on a Latin-esque groove, served as something of a foil for the guitarist, a more reserved but no less impressive musical force.

Elling's arrival on stage instantly signaled a change of course, balance, and focus. Everybody adjusted accordingly. First up for the singer was Oscar Brown Jr.'s adaptation of Julian Priester and Tommy Turrentine's "As Long As You're Living," a sly-and-bluesy 5/4 charmer that appears as a bonus track on Upward Spiral (Okeh, 2016)—a collaboratively-built recording that brings Elling into contact with The Branford Marsalis Quartet. The framework of the tune is the bass riff, so it only seemed fitting when Ganz and Miller dropped out in the middle of the piece so Elling could scat over Smith. Ganz, not to be outdone, delivered a fine solo, and Miller proved to be a percussive powderkeg when it was her turn to shine.

After jokingly speaking the virtues of writers named Sammy and seriously praising "the people who set the standards," Elling and company delivered a medley of the Sammy Fain-Sammy Cahn classic "The Second Star To The Right" paired with pianist Fred Hersch's "Stars." The former was a beautifully nuanced display that found Elling and Ganz breathing and phrasing as one; the latter—no doubt a nod to McGarry, who recorded it on Mercy Streets (Palmetto, 2005)—moved with an understated Brazilian vibe and spoke to the indigo coloring mentioned in the lyrics.

Another curve ball came at this point in the evening with the arrival of John Pizzarelli. He took to the stage with his guitar, adding another layer of sophistication to the music as Elling delivered his own vocalese lyric on saxophonist Dexter Gordon's famed live version of "Body And Soul." Both guitarists were spotlighted during this number and Elling delivered a simply stunning cadenza to bring things home. The singer was truly in his wheelhouse. The followup—a performance of pianist-composer Carla Bley's "Lawns," sans Pizzarelli— proved to be the most mesmerizing number on the program. Elling's description of the song as "deceptively simple" proved mysterious and true enough.

The set came to a close with a take on Miles Davis' immortal "All Blues" recast in a funky 4/4. Pizzarelli returned to take part in the festivities, Elling and Smith zoned in on the oh-so-familiar bass riff together, and Miller was a pure groove machine, delivering a slick drum breakdown that would've had James Brown smiling. Elling then sent everybody off with his stream-of-consciousness banter and well wishes. It proved to be a memorable performance born out of less-than-ideal circumstances. McGarry will go on to sing another day, and this writer will certainly try to be there to hear her, but this particular night belonged to Elling, Ganz, and the rest of the talented musicians on hand to save the day.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Mar8Fri
Kurt Elling
Space
Evanston, IL
Mar9Sat
Kurt Elling
Folly Theater
Kansas City, MO
Mar9Sat
Kurt Elling Quintet
Folly Theater
Kansas City, MO
$20 - 55
Mar10Sun
Kurt Elling
Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
Minneapolis, MN
Mar13Wed
Kurt Elling
Jazz at the Bistro
St. Louis, MO
Mar14Thu
Kurt Elling
Jazz at the Bistro
St. Louis, MO
Mar15Fri
Kurt Elling
Jazz at the Bistro
St. Louis, MO

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Live Reviews
The 2019 Tibet House U.S. Benefit Concert
By Mike Perciaccante
February 17, 2019
Live Reviews
JAZZTOPAD 2018
By Henning Bolte
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
America At The Paramount
By Mike Perciaccante
February 16, 2019
Live Reviews
Brussels Jazz Festival 2019
By Martin Longley
February 15, 2019
Live Reviews
Gourmet At April Jazz Club
By Anthony Shaw
February 13, 2019
Live Reviews
Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science at Cologne Philharmonic
By Phillip Woolever
February 12, 2019
Live Reviews
Quentin Baxter Quintet At The Jazz Corner
By Martin McFie
February 12, 2019