Both a virtuoso and a journeyman, a traditionalist and a chance taker, singer Kurt Elling has built a career upon defying expectations while also celebrating the standards of the vocal jazz tradition. An adept vocalist with an eloquent set of skills that find him moving easily between literate, kinetic vocalese, swinging standards, and lyrical balladry, Elling draws you deep into each song. With his 11th studio album and fifth for Concord, 2015's Passion World, Elling maximizes this eclectic dynamism with a well-curated series of songs that find him exploring compositions and styles from around the globe. The album finds him working with producers Chris Dunn and Bryan Farina as well as longtime collaborators keyboardist Gary Versace, guitarist John McLean, bassist Clark Sommers, and drummer Kendrick Scott. This touring ensemble has backed Elling worldwide, and clearly shares his enthusiasm for interpreting such stylistically disparate material. Also adding to the album's cornucopia of sounds is a handful of like-minded guests including trumpeter Arturo Sandoval on the elegiac Cuban ballad "Bonita Cuba" and tenor saxophonist Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra on the lyrical traditional Celtic number "Loch Tay Boat Song." Similarly, German trumpeter Till Brönner adds his soft, melodic trumpet to Richard Galliano's "Billie," reworked here as "The Tangled Road," and featuring lyrics by Elling.
Also engaging is Elling's duet with vocalist Sara Gazarek on Brazilian singer/songwriter Dorival Caymmi's buoyant 1944 bossa nova classic "Você Já Foi à Bahia?" And it's not just his jazz chops on display here. Elling delivers an impeccable orchestral-backed rendition of Johannes Brahms' elegiac "Nicht Wandle, Mein Licht (Liebeslieder Walzer Op. 52, No. 17)," and even reworks U2's anthemic "Where the Streets Have No Name" with an uplifting folk and soul-jazz vibe. Ultimately, that all of Passion World works so beautifully, with each song flowing into the next, is yet another reason why Elling remains one of the premier jazz vocalists in the world.
|The Verse / John Clayton / Kurt Elling||Kurt Elling||1:39|
|After the Door / Kurt Elling / Pat Metheny||Kurt Elling||3:56|
|Loch Tay Boat Song / Sir Harold Boulton / Annie MacLeod / Traditional||Kurt Elling||7:03|
|Si Te Contara / Félix Reina Altuna||Kurt Elling||5:37|
|La Vie en Rose / Kurt Elling / Édith Giovanna Gassion / Louis Guglielmi||Kurt Elling||8:15|
|Bonita Cuba / Kurt Elling / Phil Galdston / Arturo Sandoval||Kurt Elling||6:40|
|Where the Streets Have No Name / Adam Clayton / The Edge / Paul Hewson / Larry Mullen, Jr.||Kurt Elling||4:53|
|The Tangled Road / Kurt Elling / Richard Galliano||Kurt Elling||7:19|
|Você Já Foi à Bahia? / Dorival Caymmi||Kurt Elling||2:21|
|Nicht Wandle, Mein Licht (Liebeslieder Walzer Op. 52, No. 17) / Johannes Brahms||Kurt Elling||7:04|
|Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right) / Björk||Kurt Elling||4:54|
|Where Love Is / Brian Byrne / James Joyce||Kurt Elling||5:13|