Kurt Elling at the 33rd Annual Clearwater Jazz Holiday

Critically acclaimed vocalist Kurt Elling was in top form and quick to demonstrate why he is widely regarded as one of the best male Jazz vocalists around. His incredibly unique take on the Frank Sinatra classic “Come Fly With Me,” which appears on his latest album  '1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project,' opened his set and translated incredibly well for a live audience. What followed was a fantastic display of vocal prowess.
My personal favorite of the night being his performance of “Dedicated to You.” Elling was noticeably happy while singing this song, bouncing on his heels and swaying his arms to the beat. If the voracious applause was anything to go by, it's safe to say the audience felt the same after the performance. It wasn't just vocal talent on show that night, however. Vocalists often have a hard time stepping aside and allowing their bands to shine, but Elling had no such issue. Accompanied by his long-time friend and pianist Laurence Hobgood and three others on guitar, bass, and drums, each musician got their fair share of time in the spotlight, however a special mention must go to guitarist John McLean. His solo during “On Broadway” was a true highlight of the night, incorporating fast-picking, elements of fusion, and a level of virtuosity rarely seen in modern Jazz guitarists.