Jazz Vocals

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Elling's Dedication

16 JUN 09 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Grammy-nominated singer Kurt Elling's Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music Of Coltrane And Hartman was recorded live at Lincoln Center with Elling's long-time musical director/arranger, pianist Laurence Hobgood, tenor saxophone legend Ernie Watts and the string quartet, ETHEL.

This project was originally commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Festival, who asked Elling to do a "reiteration" of the famous 1963 recording session that teamed the jazz giant with the mellow-toned balladeer, the only vocalist with whom 'Trane would ever record.

But Elling wasn't interested in replicating the original, note for note, saying, "That's not a very jazzy thing to do." Bless you, Kurt Elling -- feel free to tell your friends. The real genius of a tribute is building on the base of a classic while keeping the crucial elements that make it worth revisiting in the first place.

What's kept? The repertoire, of course -- ballads like "Lush Life" and "My One And Only Love" that Hartman owned after recording them with Coltrane. Then there's Elling's resonant baritone, similar to Hartman's yet more supple and broad ranging. Watts, a jazz legend in his own right, supplies the same fat tenor sound while adding original musical ideas.

What's new? How about that string quartet? Sounds a little nutty but Hobgood makes it work so perfectly you would swear the strings were always there. His arrangements polish and modernize the original. All told, a very jazzy thing to do.