Kurt Elling The Questions – AllMusic Review by Matt Collar

The Questions

Continuing the fruitful creative partnership that began with 2016's Upward Spiral, vocalist Kurt Elling once again pairs with saxophonist Branford Marsalis for the lyrical, ruminative 2018 effort The Questions. Joining them are pianist Joey Calderazzo, drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts, guitarist John McLean, pianist Stu Mindeman, bassist Clark Sommers, and trumpeter Marquis Hill. As the title implies, the album finds Elling in deeply contemplative mood, delving into songs rife with existential themes of human suffering, and the hope for a better world. While that may sound like a serious-minded slog, it never gets bogged down.

Rather, this is a well-curated set of songs, done in Elling's usual sophisticated, literate, and uplifting style. Instead of playing standards here (though the album ends on an inspired reading of Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer's "Skylark"), Elling and Marsalis (who also produced) move toward songs that are further afield of the jazz tradition. There is a ......

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