Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, February 19 , 2019, 8:05 am | Fair 35º

 
 
 
 

Paul Mann: Cool Cat Kurt Elling Breezes Through Santa Barbara

Award-winning jazz performer mesmerizes Lobero crowd with marathon concert

When Grammy-winning jazz “vocalese” performer Kurt Elling sauntered onto the stage at the Lobero Theatre on a sleepy Tuesday night, April 19, he almost instantly enraptured the stoic crowd with his larger-than-life cool cat personality.

Elling began the first of two sets exhibiting a carefree, happy-go-lucky attitude most closely associated with modern live jazz music. The baritone singer with a four-octave range has brought the art of scat singing back to the forefront of contemporary jazz music.

“Vocalese” is sort of a rap scat singing style that blends lyrics with vocal intonations that resemble musical instruments. Elling bounces his vocals off the music created by his immensely talented band of innovative jazz musicians.

The backing group began as a trio with Laurence Hobgood (who Elling has been collaborating with since the dawn of his musical career in 1995) on piano, Harish Raghavan on bass and Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums. They were joined later by electrifying guitar player John Mclean.

All of the musicians in his quartet exhibited stunning jazz abilities, highlighted by impromptu solos throughout the evening. But it was the masterful mix of amazing vocal talents and storytelling skills by Elling himself that kept the audience mesmerized throughout the three-hour-plus marathon concert.

Elling’s set list included inspirations and covers from more than 50 years of modern pop music. The first set was highlighted by some of the cover songs on his latest album, The Gate, including masterful versions of Joe Jackson’s “Steppin Out” and The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood.” Produced by the legendary Don Was, the album features an array of covers from modern pop groups as diverse as King Crimson and Stevie Wonder.

The second set was highlighted by longer anecdotes about what it means to be a true jazz music fan or musician. Elling painted whimsical portraits of late-night jazz enclaves, in prose skills, rivaling those of Garrison Keillor. Then Elling followed up his stories with elegant experimental jazz soirees, channeling influences as far back as Count Basie and the big-band era, and all the way forward to the modern pop on his new recording.

The “true jazz people” who stuck it out for the second set were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of modern jazz sounds, redefining the meaning of contemporary jazz today.

— L. Paul Mann is a Noozhawk contributor. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.