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Album Review: 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project by Kurt Elling
Great, Based on 5 Critics
The Guardian - 80 Based on rating 4/5
Kurt Elling might have diluted the impact of this memorable session by not wanting to seem irredeemably serious (with the Coasters' Shoppin' for Clothes, and the Monkees' Pleasant Valley Sunday), but there are versions of Sam Cooke's You Send Me, Carole King's So Far Away and Paul Simon's An American Tune that will go down as some of the finest ballad interpretations this awesomely equipped vocalist has ever recorded. The concept is a celebration of the great songwriters – from Burt Bacharach to Paul Simon – who inhabited Manhattan's Brill Building. Elling brings an enraptured frankness to You Send Me, and sings I Only Have Eyes for You in a kind of stunned daze.
Forward-thinking jazz vocalist Kurt Elling follows up his progressive 2011 covers album The Gate with his equally ambitious 2012 release, 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project. Where on his last outing, Elling drew upon an array of musical genres and time periods for his song choices, this time he focuses on the fertile pop songwriting Mecca that was the Brill Building in the '50s and '60s. The creative epicenter for much of the pop music industry on the East Coast, the Brill Building was the work place for a bevy of legendary artists and songwriters including Carole King, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and many others.
In sheer talent and bravado, there’s not a more remarkable jazz singer out there than Kurt Elling. His instrument, a baritone to tenor beast that is pliant, rich, and utterly athletic, has no peer in jazz. And he has been making a series of records of great imagination—collaborations with his long-time pianist Lawrence Hobgood that take on the jazz repertoire in interesting ways.
Elling’s individualist vocal reinterpretations are well worth hearing. Martin Longley 2012 This album’s title refers to the address of the Brill Building, New York’s famed songwriting factory. Kurt Elling sets out to cover several obvious selections from its resident writers in the heyday of popular song, alongside a handful of less-predictable ditties.
THE MOUNTAIN GOATS “Transcendental Youth” (Merge) Advice on survival, terse portraits of marginal lives, glimpses of faith and epigrams of despair — “I’m still here/But all is lost” — share the songs on “Transcendental Youth,” the 14th studio album by the songwriter John Darnielle’s band, the Mountain Goats. Those have all been regular touchstones among the hundreds of songs Mr. Darnielle has released since 1991.