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 focus is on jazz standards, both famous ("There's a Boat That's Leavin' Soon for New York") and more obscure ("Blue Gardenia"), while addressing such delightful tangents as Brazilian music ("Só Tinha de Ser Com Você"), contemporary pop (Sting's "Practical Arrangement"), and even jazz-and-poetry ("Momma Said"), along the way. Perhaps their most arresting duet is an unaccompanied duet on the Sinatra-centric "I'm a Fool to Want You."
This weekend at Rose Hall, they'll re-establish once again what the album has already proved, that the timbre of the tenor saxophone and that of the male baritone voice come from the same place in the heart.
When and where:
Friday (January 20) and Saturday (January 21), 8 pm, with a free pre-concert talk each night at 7 pm
Rose Theater (Rose Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center)
Broadway at 60th Street, 5th Floor, (212) 721 6500