Arts > Playing with words

13 February 2014 | by Brian Morton

Playing with words

The young Kurt Elling’s interest in music was encouraged by his father, kapellmeister to a Lutheran congregation. Now he is one of the most exceptional jazz singers of his generation Jazz has attracted some very persistent clichés. One of them, “the sound of surprise”, has acquired renewed respectability as being more descriptive of what the music actually does than most others. But the idea of jazz as “the Devil’s music” is more problematic and it provokes fierce responses from those who believe that it confuses history with destiny and its low origins with essential nature. It does not do, either, to point out that Duke Ellington, arguably the greatest jazz composer, gave “sacred concerts” or that Mary Lou Williams wrote jazz Masse


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