@ the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London
21 October 2006
Click an image to enlarge.
Chicago based Kurt Elling was torn between serving the Lord and
following music... Selfish as it sounds personally I am relieved
he chose music, though I believe he has somehow managed to fulfil
both callings. Still, if he had chosen the latter I would have gladly
attended ‘his’ church on a regular basis to listen and
absorb whatever this man had to say (or sing). Or perhaps just to
have a general chat, and confess to having a problem with time keeping.
Don’t worry, you will getter better photographs during
Elling calmly explained as I stumbled unceremoniously towards the
Pizza Express stage, just as he was stepping down after completing
his sound check. I was late again!
“…Believe me, you will getter better results during
the live performance”!
Elling reassured me with a smile.
Elling is blessed with a rich mahogany baritone that reverberates
smoothly. Familiarities have been drawn with Frank Sinatra…
understandably - There are definite phrasing and perhaps tonal similarities,
but Elling brings his own unique warm soulful charm to each composition,
‘or poem’. On first listen to his latest offering “Nightmoves”,
it is the sparse, but natural beauty of ‘The Waking’
that awakens the spirit, compliments your natural body rhythms and
sends the senses reeling. ‘In The Winelight’ from his
“Man In The Air” 2003 release will lead you into a ‘nice’
smooth jazz false sense of security, but the inclusion of Elling’s
lyrics on Coltrane’s ‘Resolution’ re-address the
balance, and remind you that Elling is a lyrical heavyweight.
Elling’s engaging presence and charm instantly transform
the cold, clinical CD format. He transfers these traits easily to
a live intimate setting, such as the colourful Pizza Express stage.
Elling's voice has definitely found a home within the innate sound
of Rob Amster’s bass and Laurence Hobgood’s piano. The
three simply fit hand in glove musically.
I challenge anyone to listen to Kurt Elling’s voice and poetic
verse (especially on a quiet warm summer evening) and attempt to
carry out any other task at the same time. If you are not compelled
to concentrate on Elling alone, you may need to visit your GP.
Kurt Elling Desert Island Discs
Count Basie and his orchestra – Breakfast Dance and Barbeque
Reneé Fleming & Jean-Yves Thibaudet - Night Songs (Fauré,
Debussy, Marx, Strauss, Rachmaninov)
© Michael Valentine Studio Ltd.