KURT ELLING - THE QUESTIONS
The Questions, Kurt Elling’s newest studio recording, is his musical response to this moment in history and the widespread anxiety of our times. It touches artfully on challenges – personal, political, global, spiritual, and existential – and on hopes and aspirations for the future. Elling offers a vibrant and surprising choice of songs, from Bob Dylan and Paul Simon classics to jazz, Broadway, and the Great American Songbook, plus two new originals. The Questions, Elling’s second recording for OKeh Records/Sony Music Masterworks, will be released on March 23, 2018. The Questions unfolds into a rich and irresistible musical conversation, encouraging listeners to join Elling in living with big questions and finding courage to face our fears in difficult and uncertain times. Of the ten songs on The Questions, Elling says, “At first I didn’t understand how they were going to relate to each other.” The title finally came to him as the album was being mixed. NEA Jazz Master and celebrated saxophonist Branford Marsalis co-produced The Questions with Elling and performs on three tracks. As Elling and Marsalis worked together on the mix and sequence of songs, Elling realized that they all lined up on various sides of some big, deep questions: What is this life? Does meaning have being? Why is there such suffering and pain? Where is the wellspring of wisdom?
GARY SMULYAN – ALTERNATIVE CONTRAFACTS
Fantastic work from Gary Smulyan – a baritone saxophonist who may well be one of the few really standout players on his instrument these days – working in a legacy that puts his mighty talents right up there with Pepper Adams, Serge Chaloff, and a rare few others who could really make the baritone swing! Smulyan plays here in just a trio – David Wong on bass and Rodney Green on drums – and the tracks are long, flowing, and open – really illustrating Gary's strength as a soloist, and his deft imagination on an instrument that doesn't easily give itself to some players. The song list is great, too – titles by Ted Curson, Al Cohn, Mal Waldron, and Jimmy Giuffre – plus one tune by Gary too. Titles include "Ahma See Ya", "Vodka", "Deep People", "Cohn Pone", "Tale Of The Fingers", and "Hanid". ~ Dusty Groove
KARL BERGER - IN A MOMENT: MUSIC FOR PIANO AND STRINGS
Really beautiful work from legendary jazz composer and musician Karl Berger – a set that's maybe more "serious" than some of his early material, and definitely fits the "music with" title of the set! Berger's playing piano here with a string sextet – bass, violin, two violas, and two cellos – all providing subtle accompaniment to his spacious work on the piano – which is often very melancholy, and almost tentative – at a level that we never would have heard from Berger in his youth! There's a beautifully sensitive feel to the material, especially when Berger pauses in his action, and the strings come in to color in the proceedings – almost like a chorus providing a quiet commentary on the main character. Titles include "Sertso", "Every Time", "Mani", "Fragments", "Possible", "Allaba", "D'Accord", and "Auto Train". ~ Dusty Groove