Contemporary Jazz

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Opening The Gate

18 FEB 11 JONATHAN WIDRAN

In 2010, celebrated jazz vocalist, composer, lyricist and vocalese master Kurt Elling finally did it. After receiving Grammy nominations for his first seven recordings and eight nods overall, he won Best Jazz Vocal Album for Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman, a 2009 live album recorded at the Lincoln Center. It opened the gate to the next chapter of his storied career, which probably inspired the title his latest Concord Jazz release The Gate.

Leading up to the release of The Gate, which was produced by legendary pop/rock producer Don Was (Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan), Elling completed a lengthy tour with the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars and staged "Passion World," a commissioned event for Jazz at Lincoln Center with French accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano, singing songs of love and loss in five languages.

On The Gate, the singer -- showing his range and showcasing the expansive possibilities of jazz -- sticks to English as he explores a wide variety of pop, rock, soul and jazz songs, some renowned and others fairly obscure, by The Beatles ("Norwegian Wood"), King Crimson ("Matte Kudasai"), Herbie Hancock (an elegant ballad version of "Come Running To Me"), Miles Davis (Al Jarreau's hypnotic arrangement of "Blue and Green"), Stevie Wonder ("Golden Lady," a popular staple of Elling's live show), Joe Jackson ("Steppin' Out") and Earth, Wind & Fire ("After The Love Is Gone").

Elling opens a bright future for his songwriting as well, with several originals, including the witty, rhythmic "Samurai Cowboy" and lovely piano ballad "Goodnight, Lady Bright."

in this playlist.