Kurt's Press Archive - 2017
The brilliant pianist and composer gave a rare performance of his long-form masterwork last week, setting the poetry of Walt Whitman magnificently to music.Before a note was played last Friday night, pianist and composer Fred Hersch went out of his way to secure a little co-operation from the crowd  ...read more…
In all his years as the legendary music promoter of the Boston area and cultivator of many renowned jazz musicians and contemporary artists, Fred Taylor hardly expected someone to be promoting musical acts for his benefit. But on the evening of September 12, at the Berklee College of Music's Performance  ...read more…
This is some piece of work. Anyone who knows the ins and outs of jazz recording would have every right to dread the result of this, produced by the prodigious Larry Klein. On this tribute to the epochal bebopper who died 62 years ago Klein put words to Parker songs and  ...read more…
Warsaw Summer Jazz, which ran from 6 - 9 July, is a fairly recent offshoot of the much longer-established Warsaw Jazz Jamboree held each November by the same promoters. The venue was a converted factory in a large arts complex just outside Warsaw city centre. Well organised and consistently well attended, it  ...read more…
Grammy-award winner Branford Marsalis and his Branford Marsalis Quintet were originally scheduled to appear at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts back in May, but due to flight difficulties, this performance was rescheduled to July 31st. The audience was still packed, and the excitement level high. This tour is  ...read more…
When Branford Marsalis invited Kurt Elling to record the album Upward Spiral with his long-running quartet, he gained a front-line partner as well as a charismatic vocal lead. Elling doesn't just interpret a song, he inhabits it, drawing out its character through phrasing, note choice and tone. As the  ...read more…
This intriguing and highly original project seeks to do several things at once: first, and rather belatedly, to mark the 60th anniversary of Bird's death (which fell in 2015); second, to weave his best-known tunes together into a biographical narrative; and third, to re-imagine the tunes as if their composer  ...read more…
On paper, this doesn't sound promising: a series of Charlie Parker compositions sung by today's best-selling jazz vocalists, with lyrics based on Parker's life story. It's a tribute to the personnel involved that it works so well. The core band from David Bowie's Blackstar –  ...read more…
International Jazz Extravaganza chief executive Sindile Xulu loves to differentiate between the terms "extravaganza" and "festival". At a Durban press conference to welcome musicians to the second annual event, she again makes the distinction. Perhaps in KwaZulu-Natal it is a worthwhile variation, invoked to set this particular event apart from  ...read more…
James Joyce, in a letter to his brother Stanislaus, discussing his yet to be published volume of poems, Chamber Music, wrote: "It is a young man's book. I felt like that. It is not a book of love-verses at all, I perceive. But some of them are pretty enough  ...read more…
Art, people before politics at this all-star show in Havana, Cuba Despite taking place in Havana, Cuba, one of the most inspiring but politically complex nations on the planet, this year's International Jazz Day Global Concert, which streamed live from the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso on  ...read more…
Sax-master Branford Marsalis has played so well, for so long, some take him for granted. At the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall last Thursday, his artistry in skill and feel, as bandleader and soloist, earned awe at the Hall's 37th Gala. He played tenor and soprano saxes, with costar  ...read more…
Each year, there seems be a group in the world of music that creates a buzz of anticipation among fans. It could be the reuniting of a popular band. Sometimes it's a combination of musicians that, because of their own individual popularity, create anticipation about what the new musical  ...read more…
The International Jazz Extravaganza (IJE) will be returning to Durban International Convention Centre for the second time on 17 June this year. The line-up includes award winning American classic, Monty Alexander, Kurt Elling, Nduduzo Makhatini, Thandi Ntuli, and many more. "The International Jazz Extravaganza is growing into Durban's very own  ...read more…
When saxophonist Branford Marsalis and vocalist Kurt Elling discovered each other, the world of jazz received an immense gift - they fit together so well musically they could be siblings. The Kutztown University Presents! series finished its season Wednesday night in Schaeffer Auditorium with a concert by the Branford Marsalis  ...read more…
The Branford Marsalis Quartet will join forces with vocalist Kurt Elling for the next installment of JAZZ ROOTS, the concert series of the Adrianne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, Florida. The event, titled “Living Legends: Branford Marsalis Quartet with special guest Kurt Elling,” will  ...read more…
The Branford Marsalis Quartet and singer Kurt Elling combined in the first major concert of the 2017 Portland, Oregon PDX Jazz Festival. A packed audience in the capacious Newmark Theater heard a Thursday might performance that drew upon their recent album Upward Spiral. The principals listened intently to one another and  ...read more…
February 20th, 2017
It all started at a bar during a jazz competition two years ago. That’s when Branford Marsalis – a member of jazz’s royal family, and former leader of Jay Leno’s live band – and Kurt Elling, acclaimed jazz vocalist, floated the idea of making  ...read more…
I was lucky to attend one of the best concerts I've ever seen last Saturday night at UCLA's Center for the Art of Performance (CAP) at Royce Hall, which has always been a great place to hear jazz, or for that matter, any kind of music. With a  ...read more…
What would happen if some of the greatest voices to come out of Chicago joined forces on a single stage? You'd hear more than just jazz and rap, gospel and blues, classical and folk. You'd encounter the sound of the city itself, for Chicago has nurtured and shaped  ...read more…
As an ambitious young vocalist coming up on the Chicago scene in the early 1990s, Kurt Elling cultivated his sound by his sitting in regularly with some of the toughest tenors in a city known for producing take-no-prisoner saxophonists. Masters like Von Freeman, Eddie Johnson and Ed Petersen encouraged him  ...read more…
Getting back to the basics of melody is no easy job. Ask Branford Marsalis. "My definition of melody is a sequence of notes so strong that, if every other aspect of the music fell apart, people would still want to hear it," says the famed saxophonist, who, years ago, turned  ...read more…
Kurt Elling is a walking jazz machine who's utterly in command of his many talents, and who dispenses them with complete ease on the stage. This award-winning, much-lauded singer has recently been collaborating with the Branford Marsalis Quartet, fusing his style to their hard bop approach to music-making. The  ...read more…
Although Branford Marsalis famously spent 1985 to 1987 with Sting and played with hundreds of singers during his four-year run as musical director of The Tonight Show, only two of the 29 CDs and DVDs that he lists in the jazz section of his website discography feature vocalists. One is the 1992 album I  ...read more…
Perhaps my most played new album last year was "Upward Spiral," a brilliant collaboration by two formidable mid-career veterans, Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling, solidly in the tradition of such classic team ups as Cannonball Adderley and Nancy Wilson, and even more so, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman. Their central  ...read more…
Jazz moves to the form of the universe. Tingling and spiraling behind the clear and automatic, it's an expression conjoining the human to the infinite: a chance to dig deeper into a sort of refined communication, an arena where the invisible serves as the visual: a fluxing declaration. In  ...read more…