Branford Marsalis Quartet & Kurt Elling

Upward Spiral

(Okeh)

The first tableau in this vivid 12-song set is an upbeat croon through “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ for New York” that launches acerbic stabs from Marsalis’ soprano sax.

Later, sax and vocals intertwine romantically on “Blue Gardenia”, are stately and forlorn on “Practical Arrangement” and hint at tragedy on “I’m a Fool to Want You”, an unaccompanied duet.

And with Elling’s timing equally impeccable on pitch-perfect vocalese and Brazilian cool alike, his urbane presence leaves the trenchant romanticism and lyrical thrust of Marsalis’ long-running quartet intact.

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