After scoring his second GRAMMY Award (and 14th nomination) in March 2021, the protean vocalist Kurt Elling hangs an unexpected left turn with SuperBlue for Edition Records. It’s a torrent of roisterous funk, indelible beats and all-too-current lyrics that boasts the talents of producer-guitarist Charlie Hunter and two stars of the hip-hop generation: drummer Corey Fonville and bassist-keyboardist DJ Harrison (both of the genre-hopping band Butcher Brown). Elling has always been a master of grooves, ranging from bebop to pure pop and progressive jazz to neo-soul, but he’s never filled an album with grooves quite like these.
Elling has never made an album like this – and he’s never made any album in the way that SuperBlue took shape. To this day, he has yet to meet the members of Butcher Brown in person: with travel confined by the COVID-19 pandemic, their collaboration happened across a distance of roughly 1,000 miles, with Hunter acting as go-between. In their Virginia studio, Fonville and Harrison met with Hunter to hammer out an assortment of grooves and colors; at his home in Chicago, Elling took the rhythm tracks and determined whether they called for new melodic narratives or were better suited to existing compositions.
Speaking about Fonville and Harrison, Elling is grateful. “For those gifted young cats to give me the trust, and to vibe with me and be so enthusiastic about this project, is a great compliment.