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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kurt Elling & Sheila Jordan @ The Southbank Centre/ Queen Elizabeth Hall. November 14

Kurt Elling vocals/ Laurence Hobgood piano/ John McLean guitar/ Clark Sommers bass/ Bryan Carter drums.
Sheila Jordan vocals/ Brian Kellock piano/ Kenny Ellis bass/ Stu Ritchie drums.
(Review by Debra Milne.)
This year's London Jazz Festival has featured a number of vocalists, and one of the highlights was the double bill of Sheila Jordan and Kurt Elling. Ms Jordan was accompanied by her favourite pianist Brian Kellock (who was also with her at the Sage Gateshead a few years ago) and his trio. 
Beginning her set with a low key Hum Drum Blues the lady soon got into her stride with Wouldn't It Be Lovely. The strength of her voice may reflect her 84 years, but boy can she swing, and the rhythm and phrasing of her scatting was immaculate.  A cheesy show tune transformed into a jazz vocal master class. This was followed by a bossa version of All Or Nothing At All, and Workshop Blues,  a self-penned tune she uses with her students, during which the audience and the entire band had a musical workout. 
The most affecting piece was Jimmy Webb's The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, and Kellock played such a beautiful solo, that Ms Jordan responded by placing a great big smacker of a kiss on his glistening head, whilst he was still playing. Her ability to deliver well timed, witty lyrics and vocalese came to the fore with Sonny Rollins' Pent Up House and in her last number, a blues in which she described her life story. As if relieved to have reached the end of the set, she held nothing back and her voice was more powerful. Yet there was something in reserve for Lament performed as an encore.
Kurt Elling and his band provided great contrast, although both singers use vocal improvisation as an
essential part of their performance. Elling's latest project, with long term collaborator pianist Laurence Hobgood, is a selection  of songs spanning several  decades, written in the Brill Building at 1619 Broadway.  Elling opened with a soaring Come Fly With Me, and this also showcased the band. The young drummer Bryan Carter and bassist Clark Sommers were set up as close as possible, and stayed in each other's pockets all night. 
Elling & Hobgood explored a number of well-known tunes, and their arrangements changed them into quite different pieces of music, exemplified by Sam Cooke's You Send Me. Guitarist Jim McLean's simple riff, and Elling's reworking of the melody, turned a classic pop song into something deeper and groovier. Elling also had some fun with vocal improvisation using electronic effects, before seguing into On Broadway, where the edginess of the drums and bass captured not only the mood of the lyric, but also that of New York City.  Most impressive of all was Elling's voice - the warm timbre maintained over a huge range, and his expressiveness and intonation. 
In songs such as I Only Have Eyes For You, he related the lyric with sensitivity, using his awesome vocal power with restraint. And all too soon, the set climaxed with Nature Boy, starting as a sweet ballad, which served as an introduction into an up tempo piece with extended solos all round. The band returned from their standing ovation with Kurt Elling and Sheila Jordan hand in hand - she watched most of his set from the side of the stage. The audience were then treated to a duet which included Moody's Mood For Love, with both singers providing additional vocalese  including references to the US election & Elling's (allegedly) cross-dressing bass player. Just Brill.
This show is due to be broadcast on Radio 3 on January 6 2013.
Debra Milne.

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