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

Kurt Elling: Passion World

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.

Kurt Elling’s latest, his second with bassist Clark Sommers, drummer Kendrick Scott and guitarist John McLean, is also his first without pianist and arranger Laurence Hobgood. (Keyboardist Gary Versace now completes the ace quintet.) It’s a momentous turning point. Hobgood served as his musical Boswell for nearly two decades, their interdependent strengths critical to the widespread acceptance of Elling as jazz’s foremost male singer.

No fear, however, for Passion World points, figuratively and literally, to exciting new horizons. Elling logs more tour miles than most jazz musicians, and like the polymathic sponge he’s always been, he soaks up musical, cultural and philosophic ideas and influences wherever he ventures. His journey begins, appropriately, with a breakup, tidily summed up in his and John Clayton’s 90-second “The Verse,” followed by a renewed commitment to “grow into something more” within “a world of love and music,” as spelled out in “After the Door,” his lyrical refitting of Pat Metheny’s “Another Life.” Thereafter, his explorations turn intercontinental, to France, Ireland, Cuba, Brazil, Björk’s Iceland and Brahms’ Vienna.

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.
Originally Published