A collaboration between an established bandleader and band with an established singer is something that harkens back to a bygone musical age. The teaming of the Branford Marsalis Quartet and singer Kurt Elling is one of those rare and special instances. Upward Spiral is the fantastic documentation of this pairing. To hear musicians of this caliber interact with each other, and the material, is phenomenal.
The song list is a fairly diverse one taking on tunes by Sonny Rollins, Sting, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Fred Hersch and Oscar Brown, Jr. along with a couple of numbers created by the collaborators on the project. This group handles ballads and bop with equal tenacity. The performances from Elling, Marsalis and the quartet members, which include Joey Calderazzo on piano, Eric Revis on bass and Justin Faulkner on drums, are alive with arrangements that let all of the players to play off each other and do what each does so well. If you enjoy great artistry and great music, this is one you shouldn't miss.