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Kurt Elling and Danilo Perez at the Montreal Jazz Festival

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Tuesday July 09, 2019

From The Arts Fuse

Jazz Concert Review: The Montreal Jazz Festival Turns 40, Part Two
By: MICHAEL ULLMAN

“At Montreal, singer Kurt Elling is a superstar. And, in my world, so is his accompanist, Panama-born pianist Danilo Perez. When Elling walked on stage he sat for a while and then sang a single syllable. It sounded as if he were testing the mike; instead, he was initiating a wordless improvisation with Perez. The pianist answered with some childlike figures, tentative and rather sweet. Soon, though, they were ripping, with Elling scatting and Perez both answering and suggesting new ideas. Elling said afterwards, ‘We are experimenting.’ His soul, though, at least in my estimation, is in bebop. On the huge stage of the Salle Ludger-Duvernay, he told rhymed stories, scatted, but also served up a brilliantly elaborated version of Thelonious Monk’s ‘In Walked Bud.’ It was fascinating to watch Perez, who at times controlled the direction of Elling’s improvisations. They pulled off a beautifully sensitive version of Duke Ellington’s ‘Come Sunday,’ as well as a playful rendition of Monk’s ‘Pannonica.’ Elling is a literate singer with wide-ranging interests ‘” as well as perfect pitch and rhythmic sense. His 2007 disc Nightmoves includes poems by Theodore Roethke and Walt Whitman set to music. “

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