Singer Kurt Elling’s first three recordings for Blue Note records were quite ambitious, but being studio albums, they lost much of Elling’s spirit in the production. The jazz singer, like the poet, is best heard live. Elling, captured during a three-night gig at Chicago’s Green Mill, finally has realized (on record) his full potential. He’s a scatting, rapping, swinging metaphysician of hip. The former philosophy and divinity student picks up on the vocal tradition of Mark Murphy, maybe becoming the Chicago cousin of Frank Sinatra. Packed with guest appearances, the seventy minutes of music hardly seems adequate to satisfy a listener. There’s a duet with hand drummer Kahil El’Zabar on Sting’s “Oh My God,” Jon Hendricks joins in on two tracks swapping vocals and smart scatting, and Chicago saxophonists Ed Petersen, Von Freeman, and Eddie Johnson crash the party for the spoken-word jam, “The Rent Party.” An early entry into my list of jazz records of the year, Elling is the everyman’s singer. Like Tony Bennett, and Springsteen for that matter, his voice isn’t pretty but real. You think, I could sing like that and then he scats “The Flight of The Bumblebee,” and you realize there’s a fuel-injected six-cylinder turbo under his hood. As long as he doesn’t catch Cassandra Wilson (overproduction) disease, he should be at the top of the vocal game for some time.
Track Listing: Downtown; My Foolish Heart; Smoke Gets In Your Eyes; Oh My God; Night Dream; (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons; spoken intro: (Esperanto); Esperanto; Don
Personnel: Kurt Elling- voice; Laurence Hobgood- piano; Rob Amster- acoustic bass; Michael Raynor- drums & percussion; Jon Hendricks- voice on "Don
I was first exposed to jazz at the age of seven. I used to listen to Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery all the time. My late dad was a violinist and my sister was a music teacher so there was always (jazz) music playing in our home
I was first exposed to jazz at the age of seven. I used to listen to Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery all the time. My late dad was a violinist and my sister was a music teacher so there was always (jazz) music playing in our home. I later went to study Jazz guitar at various institutions internationally. My favourite was Trinity College of Music in London. I met a few life long friends there.
Jazz is a way of life and I would certainly not change it for anything or anyone. Music is Happiness So, Let it Play... Play... Play.