AVAILABLE NOW: Kurt Elling | “The Questions LIVE”
Vocalist Kurt Elling Releases
Intimate Live Album, with Music from
GRAMMY® Award-nominated Release, The Questions
The Questions LIVE – Available Now
“Politics, death… it’s going pretty good so far,” Elling jokes before turning his attention to that most ever-present of mysteries, love, on guitarist John McLean’s warm arrangement of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “I Have Dreamed.” From finding love to maintaining it, “Every Day You’re Away” adds some romantic advice gleaned from many years as a traveling musician to Webster’s “Did You Call Her Today.” It is, as Elling points out, “an everyday question,” but one that’s just as important to ponder as the big questions posed by this repertoire.
“Maybe the questions themselves are the answers,” Elling muses before concluding this moving set with “Endless Lawns,” which pairs Carla Bley’s music with Elling’s own lyrics, adapted from a poem by Sara Teasdale. It sends the audience, and now listeners around the world, home on an optimistic if wistful note, countering the darkness of the day’s headlines with a welcome dose of hope.
“In the face of this unfolding catastrophe in front of us,” Elling says, “I at least want it known that I’m on the side of compassion, grace and fellowship – not on the side of division, fascism and ignorance.”
That sentiment is amply expressed, certainly, in Elling’s lyrics and performance, which is heartfelt but full of humor, bristling with passion yet ultimately brimming with faith in humanity. But it’s there as well in the collective spirit of jazz, the inspired interactions between Elling and his bandmates: guitarist John McLean, bassist Clark Sommers, drummer Adonis Rose, and, joining the regular band for this European jaunt, pianist and organist Jim Watson. Each one of these gifted musicians are given plenty of space to explore these heady questions in their own voices live on stage.
In the current political climate, Elling says, “the approach of jazz itself is a form of protest. The collegiality, the mutual support, the democratic; everybody gets a say and if you take a single member out there’s an essential ingredient missing. It’s not a complete community until everybody’s in their right and mutually supportive place.”
For Elling, that place is on stage, finding that night’s answers in communion with fellow musicians and rapt audiences. “I’m trying to give the music and the audience the best that I can,” he says, “and be true to the example of the cats who came before me.”