Life of the Party

“Life of the Party”

(Newvelle)

When Kurt Elling first heard the OWL Trio at a small club in Brooklyn, he was stuck by the group’s “intelligence and sensitivity.” Thus were planted the seeds for what would be a sterling partnership on tracks for the recent recording Life of the Party (Newvelle), which finds the vocalist and poet in collaboration with the triumvirate of bassist Orlando Le Fleming, saxophonist Will Vinson and guitarist Lage Lund, whose first names provide the initials OWL. The synergy that Elling picked up on was born of the trio mate’s shared performance experiences in various settings during the past decade, including the formation of the trio in 2013. Having released a full album and an EP, the group continues to refine its mood-rich, chamber-jazz-like sound with Life of the Party, which is being released as part of the curated vinyl subscription series Newvelle’s fifth season. With music by Lund, and lyrics by his wife, Joy Lund, the album’s title track is a boozy, rueful meditation on the party life, as an aging scenester casts a bloodshot eye at a lifestyle that no longer seems so rewarding. Lund’s guitar lines ring with regret, as does Vinson’s astringent alto, while Le Fleming shadows and shades their solos with a resonant and woeful pizzicato. Elling inhabits the lyric — and spoken-word recitation — with just the right balance of wistfulness and admonition.

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