One thing you can definitely say about vocalist Kurt Elling: he keeps trying something new, which keeps his audience base both guessing and loyal for his devotion to the art form. Last year's release The Gate raised a few eyebrows for its slick production, while his tribute the classic meeting between Johnny Hartman & John Coltrane a couple years before received "Huzzahs" from the jazz crowd.
This session goes in a completely different direction, with Elling along with his long term compatriot/pianist/arranger Laurence Hobgood/p and team of John McLean/g, Clark Sommers/b and Kendrick Scott/dr delve into the Baby Boomer songbook created by various writers known for working on the famed NYC address.
The session,which has almost every song with either a vocal, sax or trumpet guest appearance, gives versions of material like "On Broadway," "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Come Fly With Me" and "You Send Me" that sound a bit more modern, darker and hipper than the original versions. His take of Carole King's "So Far Away" is a heart on a sleeve ballad, while "Pleasant Valley Sunday" gets a bit wise guyish. A highly hep version of The Coasters' "Shoppin' For Clothes" is destined to be a concert must-have, while Paul Simon's "American Tune" sounds more relevant than the original. Intriguing collection, and Elling's voice is in top form as well.