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Albums Of The Week: Kurt Elling & Charlie Hunter | Guilty Pleasures (ft. Nate Smith)

The versatile vocalist and the groundbreaking guitarist reteam to funk up a six-pack of rock and pop classics from Eddie Money, Sam & Dave, AC/DC (no, really) & more.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Grammy-winning jazz vocalist Kurt Elling builds towards his second SuperBlue album in fall 2023 with the six-track EP Guilty Pleasures, co-starring guitarist Charlie Hunter and special guest drummer Nate Smith — two musicians who are deservedly regarded as world-leading players in their own right.

Bursting with his trademark charisma, energy and showmanship, Guilty Pleasures offers fans a guiltless treat — half a dozen high-octane covers including Sam & Dave’s Wrap It Up, Eddie Money’s Baby Hold On, Al Jarreau’s Boogie Down, PJ Morton’s Sticking to My Guns, AC/DC’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap and a new rendition of Nate Smith’s Bounce.

There’s an additional playfulness and looseness in these fresh recordings that is entirely compelling, but Kurt’s creative spark, intensity and flair for storytelling remains at the centre, leaving listeners wanting more and more. The great Chi-town singer and consummate entertainer continues to astonish with each and every recording.

“Charlie and I are over the moon to be able to put out some tracks with our friend Nate Smith,” says Elling. “We had one afternoon and some random song ideas going into the studio … Man! I hope we can do it again some time!”

Photo by Cory Dewald.

Elling first met Hunter when both were signed to Blue Note Records in the late 1990s. They struck up an immediate rapport, leading to Elling’s guest appearance on Hunter’s album Songs From the Analog Playground. With his unassailable cred in both worlds, Hunter bridges the gap between the jazz and groove camps. “Between the records he’s made with cats like D’Angelo and John Mayer and A Tribe Called Quest, Charlie is a made guy in that world, just as he has the respect of jazz people,” says Elling.

The universal accolades for Elling don’t always mention his relentless, career-long, search for new vistas. He’s recorded an album of global love songs (Passion World) and transformed the Christmas tradition (The Beautiful Day); he’s written lyrics to jazz classics, staked out 1960s and ’70s rock ’n’ roll (on 1619 Broadway), and entered into a galvanic partnership, on disc and on tour, with Branford Marsalis’s quartet.

He earned his first Grammy for updating the historic collaboration between John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (Dedicated To You), and his most recent statuette for Secrets Are The Best Stories, his Latin-inspired project with modern piano giant Danilo Perez.

Guilty Pleasures is a continuation of Elling’s SuperBlue collaboration with Hunter. A torrent of boisterous funk, indelible beats and all-too-current lyrics, their 2021 album was nominated for Best Jazz Vocal Album at the 2022 Grammy Awards, and was met with acclaim from far and wide.”


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