CD Review: The Gate

This pop-angled album from dazzling Chicago singer Elling, produced by Bonnie Raitt and Rolling Stones collaborator Don Was, features tracks like King Crimson’s Matte Kudesai and Earth, Wind and Fire’s After the Love Has Gone. But his improv ingenuity consistently sidesteps cliches, and The Gate is far from a bland set of adult-contemporary classic-pop covers.
Matte Kudesai, delivered as a pensive drifter coloured by John McLean’s guitar slurs and some vocal-harmony overdubbing, opens the set in a seductive trance, before Joe Jackson’s Steppin’ Out showcases pianist Laurence Hobgood’s apposite contribution. The phrasing of Norwegian Wood seems to be stretching too hard to distinguish itself from the original, and Stevie Wonder’s Golden Lady tends towards formulaic soul-jazz, but a dreamy Blue in Green is a tour de force.