Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Kurt Elling: Flirting With Twilight

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.

With Flirting With Twilight, his most assured and accomplished album to date, Kurt Elling continues his triumphant reign as the thinking man’s jazz vocalist. Focusing almost exclusively on standards, the erudite Chicagoan can polish even the most well-worn chestnut to a brilliant shine. Like Mark Murphy, against whom Elling is often measured, he is blessed with the all too rare ability to electrify a lyric with an emotional charge that is at once unique and appropriate.

Eschewing the traditional laid-back treatment that the title suggests, Elling transforms “Easy Living” into a joyful, boisterous salute to unconstrained love. On “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” he moves past mere moroseness to explore the sort of naked fear that verges on madness, while drummer Peter Erskine’s urgent heartbeat hauntingly underscores the lyric’s lonely desperation. Blending “I Get Along Without You Very Well” seamlessly with “Blame It on My Youth,” he uses the trumped up machismo of the first to punctuate the callow culpability of the latter. Sondheim’s “Not While I’m Around,” usually interpreted as a plaintive paean to martyrdom, is refreshingly presented as a straightforward statement of fact: I love you and will, therefore, protect you.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.