Kurt Elling, the bold, Grammy-winning singer/songwriter who explores infinite variations on musical themes, presents his hip, edgy expressiveness as he performs at 8 pm on October 1 at Infinity Music Hall and Bistro at 32 Front Street.
Not only is Elling a master of scat and vocalese, a perennial winner of the Downbeat Critics' Poll and a fervent favorite of the Jazz Journalists Association, but he is also much admired for his craftsmanship as a writer. His lyrics have been lauded by such renowned American poets as the late Robert Creeley and Robert Pinsky, a former poet laureate of the United States.
Set to song, Elling's poetic images even expand into allusions to such literary heavyweights as Rainer Maria Rilke and Marcel Proust. Elling's way with words, Creeley once wrote, "takes us into a world of sacred particulars" because they "are informed by a powerful poetic spirit."
Waxing no less eloquent, Pinsky mused that with Elling's artful lyrics "the voice of jazz gives a new spiritual presence to the ancient, sweet and powerful bond between poetry and music."
But we probably don't have to drag along a premier poetry scholar and exegete like Helen Vendler as our date at Infinity Hall to help us understand the vocalist's Beat poetics. And, besides, there's no ambiguity of any type in Elling’' delivery of original compositions and modern interpretations of standards from pop to bop, launching pads for his high-flying improvisations.
So, just relax. Go with the flow. Have a good time. It's like being a guest at the wedding between jazz and poetry. Best of all, you get to imbibe all the intoxicating words and music at the wedding that you could possibly consume in one sitting.