eMusic Review 0
Elling follows up the Grammy-winning Dedicated to You, his 2009 tribute to the music of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, with a wider musical palette and a more jazz-oriented ensemble on The Gate. Covers of songs by early-'80s King Crimson and late-'70s Earth, Wind & Fire and Herbie Hancock (during his dreaded vocoder phrase) appear to be a ghastly agenda, as if Elling is putting his hipster-cool reputation to the ultimate test. But with an ace rhythm section like bassist John Patitucci and either Terreon Gulley or Kobie Watkins on drums, along with the gently twisted classicism of pianist Laurence Hobgood's arrangements — not to mention Elling's daredevil approach to tone and phrasing — The Gate unearths an august substance and sense of mobile innovation from nearly every tune.
The King Crimson song is "Matte Kudasai," from Discipline, and Elling makes it more fragile and awestruck than the already-gentle original, with Patitucci's bass the ongoing spine and guitarist John McLean splitting the difference between Crimson's Adrian Belew and the shimmer of Bill Frisell. Hancock's "Come Running To Me" is reconfigured as an intimate jazz workout, featuring Hobgood's restrained fills and Elling harmonizing with himself (a rarity on his… read more »