10 Songs, 56 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Vocalist Kurt Elling’s The Gate, produced by Don Was, impresses in a number of ways. There’s the breadth of the material: how many jazz singers cover King Crimson, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and a standard like “After the Love Has Gone” on the same release? The backup musicians — including pianist Laurence Hobgood, guitarist John McLean, tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Terreon Gulley — are all finely attuned to the singer. And then there’s Elling’s voice, a lovely baritone with piercing high notes. He wields this instrument with grace and restraint and manages to tastefully incorporate the influence of R&B. Elling sounds right at home on Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out,” a song whose sass and swing fits him like a well-tailored suit. “Matte Kudasai” feels more like an R&B slow jam than an early-’80s song written by English prog-rockers King Crimson, while “Samurai Cowboy” features word-packed phrases unfolding over spare accompaniment and a simple groove. “Nighttown, Lady Bright” finds Elling in spoken-word mode when he isn’t bringing fine vocal tone to the melody’s sustained notes.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Vocalist Kurt Elling’s The Gate, produced by Don Was, impresses in a number of ways. There’s the breadth of the material: how many jazz singers cover King Crimson, Miles Davis, Stevie Wonder and a standard like “After the Love Has Gone” on the same release? The backup musicians — including pianist Laurence Hobgood, guitarist John McLean, tenor saxophonist Bob Mintzer, bassist John Patitucci, and drummer Terreon Gulley — are all finely attuned to the singer. And then there’s Elling’s voice, a lovely baritone with piercing high notes. He wields this instrument with grace and restraint and manages to tastefully incorporate the influence of R&B. Elling sounds right at home on Joe Jackson’s “Steppin’ Out,” a song whose sass and swing fits him like a well-tailored suit. “Matte Kudasai” feels more like an R&B slow jam than an early-’80s song written by English prog-rockers King Crimson, while “Samurai Cowboy” features word-packed phrases unfolding over spare accompaniment and a simple groove. “Nighttown, Lady Bright” finds Elling in spoken-word mode when he isn’t bringing fine vocal tone to the melody’s sustained notes.

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