Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beauty In All Things


Today is a rare day: snow in Memphis. We only get it a couple times a year, tops. Accumulation is minimal, not even an inch on the ground really, and it's all wet and slushy. As I look out on the world, I'm reminded of Kurt Elling and his call that we find the beauty in all things.

The Beauty Of All Things - Kurt Elling

Kurt is one of the leading men in modern jazz, but he's not your typical jazz singer. He is in improvisor, a fantastic singer as well, but most importantly, he's an interpreter. He's fully capable of going "out there," free-wheeling to whatever tune he chooses. But more important is the way he feels the songs he sings, how he brings poetry into each verse to give it deeper meaning. The years he spent in divinity school no doubt molded him into what he is today. He is a deep, amazingly talented musician who surrounds himself with only the best.

Here's videos of Kurt doing perhaps his best interpretation, My Foolish Heart. The First is with Bob Mintzer's Big Band, which is excellent:

This next video, while sadly cut short by mere seconds, is absolutely stunning. Elling performs a stellar version at the Monterey Jazz Festival, interpolating the poem "The Moon Was Once A Moth" by Sufi saint Rabia of Basra, an eighth century muslim poet.


The moon was once a moth who ran to her lover,
they embraced, and she ultimately passed away
with such a smile everywhere
on her body.

Over a period of time, her wings fell to the earth
and sanctified the meadows.
Angels came and buried the limbs
that touched His mouth.

The moon was once a moth who ran to God,
they entwined.

Now just her luminous soul remains
and we gaze at it
at night.

Here's Kurt performing "Not While I'm Around," another of my absolute favorites, taken from an NPR performance at Kennedy Center. I'd link you to the entire performance, but it is sadly no longer available...

Kurt Elling - Now While I'm Around (Live @ Kennedy Center

Last up, here's a wonderful version of Nature Boy that I just ran into this morning, while making this post:

If you enjoyed what you heard, support Kurt and buy some of his work. Everything is good but I highly recommend Live In Chicago, Man In The Air, and Flirting With Twilight.

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