An Evening with Kurt Elling: SYNTOPICON

2014 begins in bold style for The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO) with yet another adventurous collaboration – this time with the world's foremost jazz vocalist, Kurt Elling.
Together they present Syntopicon, a concert exploring life's philosophies through music.


Kurt Elling is an international star, whose rich baritone voice spans four octaves and features both astonishing technical mastery and emotional depth. Using his extraordinary skills in vocalese, scat and the spoken word, Kurt warmly communicates with his audience while self-penned lyrics are more than a companion to the melody. They are words expressed as notes, and notes expressed as words…and every word counts.

“Syntopicon” – a portmanteau, a grab-bag of ideas, or group of topics – is music to embrace and deliver universal ideas through intelligent words, wonderful music and breathtaking song extolling in equal measures the vicissitudes of Love, Life, Joy, Beauty, Knowledge, Language and Courage.

Fresh arrangements specially commissioned by the SNJO will give free reign to Elling's highly cultivated use of vocalese – the creation of new song based on improvised melody.

From Bernstein's euphoric and youthful West Side Story to Paul Simon's mid-west, mid life crisis, American Tune or taking a spin in John Scofield's Jeep on 35, audiences will love the diversity of material. There's a place too for the internationalism of Vince Mendoza's Esperanto; a chance to Go on one of Wayne Shorter's stellar excursions; and time to enjoy the quietness of still waters in a “boat song” very much closer to home.

The vision is as celebratory as it is revelatory. Some of the most admired works of Mingus, Monk, Ellington, Pastorius and Shorter are on offer having been arranged by some of the foremost jazz arrangers worldwide at present. Geoffrey Keezer, Michael Abene, Bob Mintzer. Tommy Smith and Jim McNeely have all contributed to this great evening of wonderful music, breath-taking song and shared experience – surely to be a jazz highlight of 2014!

21 February 2014
Perth Concert Hall

Mill Street
Perth PH1 5HZ, Scotland

22 February 2014
The Queens Hall

85-89 Clerk Street
Edinburgh EH8 9JG, Scotland

23 February 2014
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

100 Renfrew Street
Glasgow G2 3DB, Scotland

All Concerts start at 7.30 pm. There is a free pre-concert talk with Kurt and Tommy at 6.45 pm.

Syntopicon programme:

Language: Esperanto
Arr. Michael Abene
Music by Vince Mendoza
Lyrics by Kurt Elling

Good & Evil: Go
Arr. Christian Jacob
Music by Wayne Shorter
Lyrics by Kurt Elling

Knowledge / Wisdom: Duke Ellington's Sound of Love
Arr. Tommy Smith
Music by Charles Mingus
Lyrics by Lena Seikaly

Knowledge / Wisdom: American Tune
Arr. Christian Elsässer
Music & Lyrics by Paul Simon

Love / Beauty: Somewhere from West Side Story
Arr. Geoffrey Keezer
Music by Leonard Bernstein
Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

Joy: Green Chimneys
Arr. John Clayton
Music by Thelonious Monk

Life and Death: They Speak No Evil

Arr. Bob Mintzer
Music by Wayne Shorter
Vocalese by Kurt Elling

Courage: Jeep on 35
Arr. Jim McNeeley
Music by John Scofield
Vocalese by Nina Clark

Love / Beauty: Loch Tay Boat Song
Arr. Florian Ross
Lyrics by Sir Harold Boulton

Idea / God: 3 Views Of A Secret
Arr. Fred Sturm
Music by Jaco Pastorius
Lyrics by Kurt Elling