This is subtitled Kurt Elling Sings Christmas, and it’s as classy a set of seasonal songs and arrangements as you would expect from one of the classiest singers in the world.
Familiar songs like We Three Kings and Little Drummer Boy get interpretations that make them sound and feel brand new, and they are interspersed with modern Christmas songs like Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas, Roche Sister Terre’s Star Of Wonder and Dan Fogelberg’s Same Old Lang Syne, and there is a beautiful arrangement of a Edvard Grieg Cradle Song with lyrics from Elling which becomes the exquisite The Michigan Farm. Leslie Bricusse’s songs are threaded through the album.
The band features regular Elling collaborators like guitarist John Mclean and drummer Kendrick Scott, and there are rich horn arrangements and stacked vocals from the leader.
Kurt says: “I knew I didn’t want to make a ‘religious’ record, just as I knew I didn’t want to make something musically cheap…”
From the opening sparkling sounds of Sing A Christmas Carol with its celebration of “joy and beauty” and rich mix of horns bubbling around Elling’s peerless baritone, through to the title track which features Kurt’s daughter Luiza, it’s a whole pile of perfectly chosen Christmas gifts with loads of mystery within. Elling even rescues that usually turgid Drummer Boy with his second-line meets hipster approach.
Here is a taste (complete with the least irritating video I’ve seen in years!):
Happy Christmas to you all.
Categories: CD review