The stars align on the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s new video. With music by one of America’s greatest composers, Leonard Bernstein, and lyrics by master wordsmith Stephen Sondheim, Somewhere is a classic vehicle for one of the most distinctive and most beautifully toned singers of the current age, Kurt Elling.
Written for the multi-award-winning romantic musical drama West Side Story, the song was selected by Elling and SNJO director Tommy Smith to represent Love and Beauty in Synopticon, the critically acclaimed song cycle depicting human emotions, virtues and experiences.
The video is being released on Remembrance Sunday, November 8, to acknowledge the song’s message of reconnecting with a loved one.
“Like all poetry, everyone has their own interpretation of a lyric,” says Tommy Smith. “We chose this release date so that when the nation unites this weekend to remember and honour the fallen and those we have lost, no-one is forgotten.”
Following on from Elling and the orchestra’s enthusiastically received Courage: Jeep on 35°, also taken from the Syntopicon series of concerts, Somewhere is a superb example of a singer and instrumental ensemble working together in harmony and common purpose in a live setting.
From the simply executed introduction by pianist Steve Hamilton, who carefully follows the score’s musical instructions to keep the opening statement pure, the performance is brilliantly considered. Elling’s clear, mahogany-toned singing brings out the poetry of Sondheim’s yearning lyric and both Hamilton and alto saxophonist Ru Pattison improvise with expression and creativity in keeping with the song’s sentiment and New York pianist Geoffrey Keezer’s apposite, warm brassy arrangement.
“This is the fourth video we’ve released during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Tommy Smith of the recording which was made at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. “The idea behind these releases is that they help us to stay in touch with our audience while we are unable to give live performances. But this one, like Courage: Jeep on 35° and its predecessors with the marvellous young Texan Jazzmeia Horn and New York vibes virtuoso Joe Locke, is also a reminder of the resources we have in our concert catalogue. It’s a great performance by Kurt and an illustration of the understanding we have developed together over a series of collaborations.”
Somewhere will be available on the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s YouTube channel from 9:00am UK time, Sunday 8th November.
Kurt Elling (photo by Derek Clark)