It doesn’t look like it, but isn’t Kurt Elling the best jazz singer of his generation? The idea of any competition, or any ranking, is obviously ludicrous, not to say stupid, but it is evident that album after album, the singer from Chicago pursues a journey that is almost flawless. In 2015, with Passion World, Elling revisited Nicht Wandle, Mein Licht taken from Brahms‘ Liebeslieder, but also pieces penned by U2, Pat Metheny, Björk, not forgetting La Vie en rose and even a poem by James Joyce! For this eleventh album that is as eclectic as possible, he abandoned his acrobatics, that only he knows the secrets of, for a more languorous and sensual style, a singing that he delivered with a lot of sophistication.
His range of expression, as well as the impressive accuracy of his enunciation, is once again on the menu of a feast of covers that is just as perfect. With The Questions, Kurt Elling tackles this time Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Jaco Pastorius, Leonard Bernstein, Carla Bley, Johnny Mercer and a few others. Produced by saxophonist Branford Marsalis, this twelfth opus gathers pianist Joey Calderazzo, drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, guitarist John McLean, organ player Stu Mindeman, trumpet player Marquis Hill and bass player Clark Sommers. It’s a fine selection of virtuosos in the service of a singer that manages to impose his style and the roundness of his voice, even on classics that have been covered by everyone on earth like Skylark. It is classy, and already a classic. © Max Dembo/Qobuz