Tommy Smith

Kurt Elling with the SNJO

Kurt Elling with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
WHATEVER John Coltrane imagined his A Love Supreme suite inspiring – world peace would have been reasonable reward – he surely can’t have considered someone arriving who could turn the melody and saxophone solo from that masterpiece’s Resolution into a work of blistering vocal art that must be heard while its creator is in the same room to be believed.  *****

Kurt Elling does many things that have to be heard to be believed. The first note he sang on the opening number here, Joe Jackson’s Stepping Out, was one. But this extraordinarily rich sound, apparently sculpted from some Chicagoan granite quarry but conversely as malleable as Play-Doh and conveying vast reservoirs of feeling, became the norm as Elling led the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra through a repertoire that showcased an astonishing musicality.

Elling is a musician whose instrument happens to be his voice and he’s a singer whose choral music training and deep immersion in jazz’s traditions give him control, fluidity, real deal credibility and gobsmacking improvisatory impact. With SNJO at their classy, sumptuous best and individually creative whenever opportunity arose, the highlights arrived by conveyer belt. Resolution was one; King Crimson’s contrastingly calm, deliciously swooping Matte Kudasai another. That doesn’t stop me playing Oliver Twist, though. Please, sir, can we have some more?