Kurt Elling

Just remember that the day will come
When you will just be steak on a plate
(Don't 'cha know, it's fate)
Kurt Elling, "Sing You Sinners"

A great new singer. His vocalese lyrics are great, his "rants" (improvised tune and words) are interesting, and he and his collaborators can make old warhorses sound fresh and exciting.

Actually, the collaborators need a note, especially on his second and fourth albums. Perhaps it's just too much listening to vocalese, but I'd gotten used to the instrumental accompaniment being mostly just a simple rhythm section. With Kurt and the Laurence Hobgood Trio, this is not the case. It's more like, say, the old Brubeck Quartet, with Kurt taking Paul Desmond's place. He has the bulk of the solos, but the band has a real personality, and you get neat things like Kurt vamping under a piano solo.



All four mainstream releases have been Grammy-nominated.


I caught their second set at the Bird of Paradise on March 6, 1998. Kurt and the band both come off even better live. From memory, the setlist was something like this:

It was great fun, and I'd highly recommend them if you like this sort of thing. Kurt's voice seemed stronger and richer live, and the band played an even more active role in the proceedings.

I caught their first set at the Bird of Paradise on July 7th, 2000. Great show. The setlist included

I regret not having the time to stay for the second set. I think I could watch these guys every month and not grow tired of them.

June 28th, 2001, found Kurt and the gang back in Ann Arbor, this time as part of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. Frank Parker, Jr has taken over as the quartet's drummer, and seemed to fit in well. Kurt just seems to keep getting better -- though it certainly didn't hurt that he did my two favorites ("Resolution" and "Tanya Jean").

The setlist included

as well as piano and drum solos.

See Also

The Manhattan Transfer's Swing.

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