Kurt's Press Archive
June 25th, 2009

The historic collaboration between the great John Coltrane and baritone jazz singer Johnny Hartman—is remembered and celebrated in this special tribute album with Kurt Elling voicing standards from the Great American Songbook with the help of saxophonist Ernie Watts, the Laurence Hobgood Trio and ETHEL, a four-piece string section. Grammy-nominated vocalist Kurt Elling releases his eighth album overall and second on the Concord Jazz label with "Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings The Music of Coltrane and Hartman.”

Recorded live at the Allen Room in the Lincoln Center, New York as part of Lincoln Center's American Songbook series, the album is a culmination of material commissioned by the Chicago Jazz Festival in 2006 originally designed to celebrate John Coltrane's 80th birthday.

Starting off with a warm introduction from the string quartet, the album opens up with the Altman/Lawrence standard "All or Nothing At All,” as Elling and Watts engage in their first of several Coltrane/Hartman-like colorful collaborations lending a fresh new interpretation of this chart. After "A Poetic Jazz Memory,” where the singer remembers Coltrane and Hartman in a poetic read on the second track titled "It's Easy To Remember,” Elling sings the lyrics of "Dedicated To You” in the unique stylish fashion for which he is known with an amazing accompaniment from pianist Laurence Hobgood to the applause from the Lincoln Center crowd. Hobgood delivers another superb performance on the buoyant "They Say It's Wonderful.”

Ernie Watts does the only instrumental on the album providing a crowd-pleasing performance with a sensational tenor solo on the brief Johnny Burke ballad "What's New.” The music continues in a medley of tunes that include the classic Billy Strayhorn composition "Lush Life,” in remembrance of the 1963 album of the same title from Coltrane and Hartman. The highlights continue with some of the outstanding tunes like "Autumn Serenade,” "My One and Only Love,” "Nancy With The Laughing Face” and "You are Too Beautiful” rounding out a beautiful session of vocal jazz performed with grace and elegance from one of the best jazz vocalists of our time. Ernie Watts and pianist Hobgood are truly magnificent here providing their own touch of class to a wonderful recording.