Kurt Elling has been stealing songs from the hearts of jazz fans for decades. His lustrous sound combined with witty banter is more than a winning combination, it's what keeps audiences coming to him from all over the world. Elling definitely brought panache and grace to a unseasonably warm Sunday afternoon.
Laurence Hobgood, his arranger and pianist, has helped Elling re-cast the Coltrane album with Johnny Hartman, which will be released sometime this summer. Doing great justice to these timeless classics, Hobgood adds his signature to Elling's voice by tossing an unexpected turn and twist into each beat and chord played. Once you become predictable as a musician, you lose your audience and this is probably why this group, in its entirety, has survived the ups and downs of jazz. They're also, probably part intentional and not, leading and educating the audience on the art of listening for the next moment and paying attention to the importance of this music.
Further suspending ears with musical mastery, Marcinko and Sommers waltzed through tunes, supporting Elling with their unprecedented skill and ability to take greatness and push it to the place where words, even when they're sung by Elling, are not sufficient enough to describe the human experience of styled sound. Elling had the last, timeless and beautiful words of the weekend and I can't think of a better way to end an event.