Secrets Are The Best Stories

Kurt Elling’s new duo album with Danilo Pérez
Released worldwide April 3, 2020 on Edition Records – on CD, vinyl, and digital
Pre-order: kurtelling.bandcamp.com

Secrets Are The Best Stories is the new album from acclaimed vocalist and Grammy-winning artist Kurt Elling featuring renowned pianist Danilo Pérez.

Edition Records is delighted to provide the support and artistic freedom for Kurt to pursue his goals while placing artistry and integrity at the forefront. Secrets Are The Best Stories is set to be a career-defining album for Kurt, confirming his trajectory on a new and evolving path of artistic excellence, and further exploring the passion and the messages, political, personal, that inspire him.

Here, Elling adds evocative new lyrics to compositions by greats like Pérez’s iconic collaborator Wayne Shorter, late fusion bass genius Jaco Pastorius, and visionary composer/arranger Vince Mendoza, and to pieces from Pérez’s own catalogue. Along with his own compelling narratives, Elling adapts the works of contemporary poets Franz Wright and Robert Bly, the 19th century abolitionist poet Frances E.W. Harper and Nobel-winning author Toni Morrison.

His previous album The Questions, released in 2018, explored important messages about social and political issues. The Questions was undoubtedly a learning experience from which Elling never expected to find definitive answers. And yet some things have become clearer to him. Elling’s continued search for what is hidden and what is unearthed is reflected in the title, Secrets Are The Best Stories – an insight gleaned from one of his daughter’s childhood friends, whose naïve wisdom recognised the deeper beauty in games of hide-and-seek.

With Secrets Are The Best Stories, Kurt has further developed his protest voice to communicate his impassioned artistic reaction to the vital issues of our time: human rights, immigration and climate change. On this album he demonstrates the artist’s ability to respond, which he does with command and virtuosity, and integrity.

“The Questions asked, ‘How did we get in this mess? What are we going to do about it?'” Elling reflects. “Sometimes we trip over the answers or live into them over time. Sometimes we have to work very hard to see the possibility hidden right in front of us; the shining diamond must be romanced over time and drawn out from what looks like a plain block of molten frost. And then again, sometimes the answer is perfectly obvious: ‘Be kind.’ But the news cycle has continued apace, confronting us with an ever darker labyrinth. How shall we survive? Danilo and I share many of the same concerns and anxieties about where the world is today. Secrets Are The Best Stories is our cri de coeur.”

To help them amplify this musical outcry, Elling and Pérez gather together a remarkable ensemble. The core of the band is formed by the singer’s longtime bassist Clark Sommers, in-demand drummer Johnathan Blake and Brazilian percussion master Rogerio Boccato. They’re joined by a retinue of stellar special guests, including alto saxophonist Miguel Zenón, guitarist Chico Pinheiro, and Román Díaz, a revered elder statesman of Cuban percussion.

Secrets Are The Best Stories brings together a powerful message and unique collaboration. As Kurt explains: “I am thrilled to be working with Danilo so closely on this collection of songs. I am grateful to him for the remarkable energy he gave to this collaboration. As always when I am in the room with someone of such enormous talent and experience, I hope to learn all that I can about his/her approach to music and life. I want to be challenged and to meet the unexpected. I got that and more from Danilo. In the end, I believe we enriched one another and created something valuable and new.”

Perhaps the greatest mystery revealed by this recording is the secret of beauty itself: beauty with a purpose. With this gorgeous new album, Elling makes no secret of the empathy that he feels for – and hopes to find in – his fellow citizens of the world. “I start from the heart,” Elling says of his songwriting process. “And my heart goes to compassion.”

Ever since Kurt Elling burst on to the global scene 25 years ago, he has been developing the sound and command of his vocal instrument into one of the most recognisable in the music. A combination of richness in intent, of soulfulness and of signature expression define him as an artist. Secrets Are The Best Stories – the new recording from the world’s foremost jazz singer – translates an artistic vision of history, mystery, and storytelling into a musical message both singular and deep.

Release date: April 3, 2020 on Edition Records on CD, vinyl, and digital. Pre-order information: kurtelling.bandcamp.com


1 The Fanfold Hawk (for Franz Wright) 2:44
Music by Jaco Pastorius and lyrics by Kurt Elling
2 A Certain Continuum 5:06
Music by Jaco Pastorius and lyrics by Kurt Elling
3 Stays 5:28
Music by Wayne Shorter and lyrics by Kurt Elling and Robert Pinsky
4 Gratitude (for Robert Bly) 6:21
Music by Danilo Pérez and lyrics by Kurt Elling
5 Stage I 5:05
Music by Django Bates and lyrics by Sidsel Endresen
6 Beloved (for Toni Morrison) 9:32
Music by Danilo Pérez and lyrics by Kurt Elling
7 Stages II, III 4:26
Music by Django Bates and lyrics by Sidsel Endresen
8 Song Of The Rio Grande (for Oscar and Valeria Martinez-Ramirez) 4:56
Music by Danilo Pérez and lyrics by Kurt Elling
9 Rabo de Nube 3:20
Music and lyrics by Silvio Rodríguez
10 Esperanto 5:01
Music by Vince Mendoza and lyrics by Kurt Elling
11 Epílogo 1:33
Music by Danilo Pérez