Fans of Kurt Elling have long known that his recordings, as clever and well-orchestrated as they might be, don't quite match up to the power and charm of his live performances. Years of holding court at the Green Mill and other Chicago clubs are what really have brought Elling his most devoted followers, so it is exciting to see that Blue Note's new Elling album is a document of three special nights spent recording at the legendary Uptown jazz club. And indeed, with a few small exceptions, the album shows off Elling at his best – loose, uninhibited, creative, and solid. His standard backing trio has never been tighter and more balanced, and the performance of pianist (and Elling collaborator) Lawrence Hobgood really shines.
A double-length live set from the legendary Modern Jazz Quartet – recorded in Scandinavia in 1960, almost as a summation of the group's growing genius in the 50s! The tunes are a mix of John Lewis and Milt Jackson originals, plus other songs all given the wonderful MJQ twist – distilled into a sublime blend of piano, vibes, bass, and drums – all delivered with a sense of class, but never too much polish. The album is live, but still has that sophisticated composure that made the group so unique at the time – and the whole thing's a perfect complement to their famous studio albums on Atlantic!
For over two years, organist Chris Hazelton and his soulful septet, the Boogaloo 7, have held down a wildly successful residency every Friday night at Kansas City's acclaimed Green Lady Lounge. Expanding on the funky sounds popularized by Jimmy McGriff, Charles Earland, Lou Donaldson, and others, this group brings a mixture of original tunes and covers, both old and new, that excite and move audiences week after week. With two in-demand 45rpm singles already under their belt, the logical next step was a full length album, and this one catches them in their element: live at the club they call home.