Tag Archives: Herbie Hancock

Kurt Elling’s The Gate

AKIE BERMISS: In my opinion Kurt Elling is probably the jazz singer when it comes to the last 15 years or so. No one else is as prolific, as innovative and improvisatory, or as superbly talented. No one in his generation at least. You list to Kurt Elling and hear a host of great male singers from jazz past (many who are still working today) like Mel Torme, Frank Sinatra, Mark Murphy, Al Jarreau and Andy Bey. With his broad, almost too rich voice and stunning range Elling is the cat to beat when it comes to jazz singing. Indeed, he has been so good that many of us have gotten spoiled by just how great those first few albums were. His past two or three records have been excellent to be sure, but they haven’t been what I consider to be homerun Elling stuff. But when I heard about The Gate I knew it was going to be a perfect fit. Tunes by Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, The Beatles, and King Crimson? That’s the kind of stuff that is right in Kurt Elling’s strike zone.

HOWARD MEGDAL: I largely agree with Akie, both on Elling generally and The Gate in particular. There are a few nitpicks I’d add, however, that I think are symptomatic of where Elling has been less innovative than his first few albums-simply because they are innovative in the same way. Continue reading

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Double Portrait: Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes

AKIE BERMISS: As an ardent jazz fan, I have but one dirty secret: I hate piano duos. I know piano is like the mayonnaise on the sandwich of jazz… and being a piano player, you’d think I’d be all about piano duos. The more pianos the merrier! But the truth is, I’m not usually a big fan of huge piano sounds. Its so easy to over-power all the other instruments with a piano (especially in a recording environment) and sometimes the unambiguous harmonic landscape can be musically frustrating. Sometimes you just want the piano player to lay out and let the other instruments develop a dynamic.

HOWARD MEGDAL: Unlike Akie, I have no objection to the double-piano setup. I tend to think of it as akin to the writing found on Perpetual Post-divergent viewpoints on the same theme or idea. And Double Portrait is a glorious example of the form- a true musical marriage, apparent in every track on the album. Continue reading

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