BRANFORD MARSALIS, KURT ELLING JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER
Jazz Duo Shines in evening of adventurous, innovative music
By Dwight Casimere
Reed artist Branford Marsalis and jazz vocalese specialist Kurt Elling presented an inspired program of innovative and daring music in the Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Both used their instruments to fullest advantage (yes, Elling uses a full range if vocal techniques that transform his voice to that of an instrument on par with Branford's battery of "axes." The two proved that there is ample territory for growth and discovery in this idiom known as Modern Jazz.
Elling excels as both a composer and story teller. He especially shines in the jazz classics, such as Billy Holiday's I'm A Fool to Want You. His ending crescendo sent chillsdown the spine. A raucous encore of St. James' Infirmary best displayed the musical sympatico between the two artists, with Elling mimicking Marsalis's riffs on the soprano sax and Elling using the aid of his hands to create a 'talking' horn effect. It was a unique pairing of inspiring music that brought the audience to its feet in a thunderous ovation.