Since the 1990s, Kurt Elling has proved a most innovative jazz singer. His recordings -- particularly The Messenger, Man in the Air, and Nightmoves -- also reveal him to be a modern jazz visionary. On The Gate, Elling presents nine songs gathered from rock, pop, soul, and jazz. Produced by Don Was, Elling is accompanied by longtime pianist Laurence Hobgood, saxophonist Bob Mintzer, guitarist John McLean, bassist John Pattitucci, alternating drummers Terreon Gulley and Kobie Watkins, and percussionist Lenny Castro.
It’s not even close. Kurting Elling is far and away the boldest, most talented and consistent male jazz singer working today. Since his Blue Note debut in 1995, Close Your Eyes, Elling has presented a compelling case for the jazz vocal tradition. Elling combines the sonic richness of Sinatra, the beat adventure of Mark Murphy, and the modern cool Cassandra Wilson.
This pop-angled album from dazzling Chicago singer Elling, produced by Bonnie Raitt and Rolling Stones collaborator Don Was, features tracks like King Crimson's Matte Kudesai and Earth, Wind and Fire's After the Love Is Gone. But his improv ingenuity consistently sidesteps cliches, and The Gate is far from a bland set of adult-contemporary classic-pop covers. Matte Kudesai, delivered as a pensive drifter coloured by John McLean's guitar slurs and some vocal-harmony overdubbing, opens the set in a seductive trance, before Joe Jackson's Steppin' Out showcases pianist Laurence Hobgood's apposite contribution.
Another potential Grammy-winner from the jazz vocalist. Kathryn Shackleton 2011 The Gate sees Grammy-winning US vocalist Kurt Elling collaborating with rock producer Don Was and showing the same respect for Earth, Wind & Fire and Joe Jackson as he has previously for the poetry of Rumi and Rilke. As you’d expect from Kurt Elling, The Gate is an impeccably stylish album that coaxes jazz from unusual sources.