Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Spontaneous last minute decision to go see Kurt Elling last night at Birdland. And I'm so glad we did.
I've seen him live so many times and in so many different countries now, but this show (or rather these shows, as we also stayed for the second set) was one of the best ever. Second only perhaps to the first time I saw him years ago at Pizza Express Dean St, London, when I was so totally suspended on the edge of that extraordinary voice, hearing him live for the first time, that I couldn't eat a morsel of pizza. Yes you heard correctly - I left a whole pizza. And it was my favourite sort with extra capers. THAT'S how good he was ;-). I went back every night that week to see him over and over again. A not-at-all-well-known Jamie Cullum also at every set, sitting on the table next to me - we bonded in our total awe of this man and his music and virtually stopped the rest of our lives for a week to fully take it on board, to try to somehow breathe it all in.

Last night was one of those magical performances when everything was right - the audience loved it, hanging on every word and note, the band were having a great time, the music was totally inspired and effortless. Nobody wanted it to end - including Kurt I think, who did an encore after the first set (pretty unheard of when you have to turn the whole room over in 20 minutes for the next set). He was in that reckless joyous creative musical space where every note he sang and every story he told came straight from the soul, and easily - an instant desire-path. He just threw his head back and soared. It's one of the closest things to bliss to be in the presence of that 'thing' when it happens, and it always makes me cry. In fact I've only not cried at a Kurt performance once - at the Algonquin a year or two ago. But one of us clearly had to, so Kurt cried that night instead - moved himself to tears reciting the Pablo Neruda poem 'Horses'.

Anyway, possibly because I was out last night until 2am , I am now late for the first day of the IAJE.


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