Kurt Elling and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra are back together with a new collaboration – they are building an Apparition Bridge. Rob Adams reports:
Works by the late Esbjorn Svennson, Danish bassist Anne Mette Iversen, Paris-based Ivorian drummer Anne Pacéo, and Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek feature in Apparition Bridge, a celebration of European jazz music by Kurt Elling and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, which tours Scotland from November 18 to 21.
Elling, who will be singing recently written lyrics to instrumental compositions as well as existing songs including Becca Stevens’ Ophelia, has developed a strong rapport with the SNJO and its artistic director, saxophonist Tommy Smith, over a series of collaborations.
They first worked together on An Evening with Kurt Elling in 2014, highlighting songs from Elling’s then-recently released The Gate album. They have gone on to tour Scotland with the Syntopicon song cycle, a centenary celebration of Frank Sinatra and a special winter concert series, Spirit of Light. Elling and the SNJO have also appeared together at London Jazz Festival and at Jazz Sous Les Pommiers in Normandy and recorded together in New York for the SNJO’s American Adventure album.
“Few singers in the world bring to bear the unique combination of artistic depth, intellectual breadth and soulful delivery that our friend Kurt Elling does,” says Tommy Smith. “We’ve worked on a broad selection of material in the past, from swinging Sinatra favourites to items from the praise song canon in Spirit of Light, and Kurt kills it every time. Kurt also contributed a great vocal interpretation of Duke Ellington’s Sound of Love by Charles Mingus to American Adventure.”
Apparition Bridge will also include material by Michel Legrand, Joe Zawinul, Kenny Wheeler & Norma Winstone, pianists Maggi Olin, Michiel Borstlap, Brian Byrne and Lars Jansson, and Scottish pop-soulsters Hue & Cry. It features specially commissioned arrangements by an international cast including former Pat Metheny keyboards player Gil Goldstein, vibes virtuoso Joe Locke, pianists Nikki Iles and Mehmet Sanlikol, and saxophonist Fabia Mantwill.
“This project promises to reconnect us all through music as we span the ethereal chasms between the ancient and the future, between sorrow and joy, and between time and timelessness,” says Kurt Elling. “The combination of talents at work, including the searching eloquence of saxophone master Tommy Smith and the superb SNJO, provides the makings of a powerful and unique musical regrouping.”
The first performance of Apparition Bridge takes place in the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh on Thursday 18 November. Elling and the SNJO then move on to Perth Concert Hall (Friday 19), Glasgow Royal Concert Hall (Saturday 20) and Aberdeen Music Hall (Sunday 21).