Over the weekend, I got a chance (while putting together the last podcast) to listen to another one of the nominees for Best Jazz Vocal, Mr. Kurt Elling. I listened not only to the release for which he has been nominated, but some of his earlier material as well. What attracted me to this artist was first, his style. If you can follow me on this, his delivery is articulate, knowledgeable, smooth and confident. Note that I’ve spoke nothing about his vocal talent thus far but those few things aforementioned draw a direct correlation to his smooth vocal delivery as well. His delivery brings to mind a certain air of sophistication, the type of sophistication that is part of jazz. If I were to compare his vocal delivery to a jazz instrument, I’d say saxophone comes to mind. Couple that with the elegance the selections on this nominated CD, I’d say it makes for a winning combination. I definitely have been enjoying the renditions he’s done in tribute to Johnny Hartman and John Coltrane. I’d recommend it to any jazz lover’s collection.
Here’s the electronic press kit (EPK) for Kurt Elling’s new Concord Jazz album “Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman. The CD was released on June 23rd, 2009.
Greetings readers. A somewhat frigid night here in the DC Metro area. I hope those in similar weather conditions are keeping warm.
The other day I perused this category and took a listen to Julian Lage. I had never heard of this nominee until this the nominees list came out, and was pleasantly surprised to find him as a guitarist. Being a child prodigy, musically, is nothing new at all, but being prodigious in a number of different genres and combining them into one style is no so commonplace. Receiving accolades from various music luminaries at such a young age is also uncommon. Being a guitarist, I’m naturally biased to him as a nominee (this goes for Mike Stern as well). What I found myself thinking about his style of music was…it didn’t quite match what I thought a contemporary jazz album should sound like. Lage’s style, to me, has somewhat heavy folk influences across the board and my experience with contemporary jazz, listening to it for 30+ years, doesn’t quite jive what that (I lend the same mindset to Mike Stern’s “Big Neighborhood” with the rock influences, as well). As I listened to the tracks from his most excellent release, Soundpoint, I became increasingly impressed by each song, particularly his rendition of Miles Davis’ “All Blues”. Equally impressive is the height of musical stature that he’s grown into, by not only releasing a Grammy nominated album, but already (by age 21) being a sideman to jazz great Gary Burton. Here’s Julian discussing Soundpoint, released on Emarcy Records:
To me, Soundpoint is a collection of very well done, intricate arrangements and performances that encompasses the mastery of his instrument. I find it interesting that the selections themselves find themselves in this category, but I enjoy them nonetheless. I wonder if he will, in the future, perform his arrangements with a larger electric ensemble or continue bring his compositions in a group such as this. In any event, it will be a welcome addition to my collection