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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Passion World

Concord Jazz
(no catalogue number)



1. The Verse

2. After the Door

3. Loch Tay Boat Song

4. Si Te Contara

5. La Vie En Rose

6. Bonita Cuba

7. Where the Streets Have No Name

8. The Tangled Road

9. Voc J Foi Bahia

10. Nicht Wandle, Mein Licht

11. Who Is It (Carry My Joy on the Left, Carry My Pain on the Right)

12. Where Love Is

Kurt Elling - Voice

John McLean - Guitars

Gary Versace - Piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, accordion

Clark Sommers - Bass

Kendrick Scott - Drums


Til Bronner - Trumpet (track 8)

Frank Chastenier - Piano (track 10)

Sara Gazarek - Voice (tracks 7,9,11)

James Shipp - Percussion, voice (track 4)

Karolina Strassmayer - Saxophone (track 5)

Francisco Torres - Percussion (track 4)

Tommy Smith - Saxophone (track 3)

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (track 3)

Arturo Sandoval - Trumpet (track 6)

Dave Siegel - Keyboards (track 6)

John Belzaguy - Bass (track 6)

Johnny Friday - Drums (track 6)

WDR Funkhausorchester & WDR Big Band (tracks 5,10)

Kurt Elling's latest CD finds him seeking new artistic pastures following the end of his long musical partnership with pianist Laurence Hobgood. The songs on Passion World are not necessarily associated with jazz interpretations but belong to many different musical cultures. They all have one thing in common: the interpretation through song of love found and love lost.

The songs which Elling has chosen to explore come from a wide source: Brazil, Cuba, France, Germany, Ireland and Scotland, even Iceland. And the Grammy-awarded singer has engaged an equally eclectic collection of musicians to support him, including the excellent Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with its director, Tommy Smith, on the atmospheric Loch Tay Boat Song which came to the Chicagoan's attention when he was a student backpacking through the Highlands.

Every song has a fascinating history behind it, but, after several listenings, some stand-out tracks emerge. After the Door is a Pat Metheny tune, arranged by Laurence Hobgood with lyrics by Elling. It is much enhanced by a sensitive piano solo by Gary Versace. A lush arrangement ofLa Vie En Rose with the NDR Big Band has an additional lyric by Elling based on a Wynton Marsalis version of this famous song. Bonita Cuba is by the Cuban trumpeter, Arturo Sandoval, who also plays a lovely solo on this moving, yearning song.

The Brazilian Voc J Foi Bahia has Elling in a cheerful duet with up-and-coming young singer, Sara Gazarek, and this is followed by an ambitious version of a Brahms lied sung by Elling with great feeling in its original German. By total contrast, the gentle Who Is It, featuring the excellent Versace again, is the Icelandic contribution and it's by the pop singer, Bjork! The final song, Where Love Is, by Canadian songwriter, Brian Byrne, is based on a poem by James Joyce and has the most beautiful lyric of all: `Dear heart, why do you use me so?' Breathtakingly sung and performed by Elling and his colleagues.

I confidently predict that this outstanding CD will win many awards.

George Stacy

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