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Kurt Elling in Blue Bell, Pa., 12/3/11

The singer and his group thrill a Pennsylvania audience

Clark Sommers performing with Kurt Elling at Montgomery County Community College
Ulysses Owens, Jr. performing with Kurt Elling at Montgomery County Community College
John McLean performing with Kurt Elling at Montgomery County Community College
Laurence Hobgood performing with Kurt Elling at Montgomery County Community College
Kurt Elling in performance at Montgomery County Community College in Blue Bell, Pa.

Kurt Elling thrilled the audience at this Pennsylvania college with his seemingly inexhaustible, four-octave baritone voice and dramatic songs that swept from one emotional high to another.

The show began with Elling and his rhythm section-Laurence Hobgood on piano, Clark Sommers on bass, Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums and special guest John McLean on guitar-spinning through a grooving version of Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out.” Elling’s romantic, luxurious version of Coltrane and Hartman’s “Dedicated To You” was followed by several tunes from the singer’s new recording, The Gate. A standout was his sensual version of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” with guitarist John McLean adding a rocking solo. McLean was also was featured, on the beautifully arranged ballad “Skylark.” The guitarist’s unaccompanied introduction shimmered with beauty and perfectly complemented Elling’s vocals.

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