COSTELLO My Flame Burns Blue / Mendoza 4775961

. . . three tunes into the show, the experience began to feel like something you'd want to go on forever, hearing Costello go through his entire huge repertoire with new, evocative interpretations. He's so good, he probably could even pull off a symphonic version of "Pump It Up."

. . . Costello was always a classicist in the broadest sense. We just didn't know it yet. The intervening years have made it clear, though, and in his latest incarnation as a soigne balladeer, Costello has fused his taste for intricate, emotianally fraught lyrics with a tender melodic vein. It suits him down to the ground.

The latest and most interesting addition to the small club of crossover rockers . . . a true breakthrough recording . . . a fascinating melange of jazz, Latin pop and modernist tonal essays that at times approach the edginess of Bela Bartók or the noirish qualities of hard-boiled detective movies. Indeed, what's striking about this collection is how well it works as an album, like a formal program of art songs wafting in the alcoholic haze of a smoky, pre-tobaccolawsuit club . . . Indeed, this collection is an almost eerie re-creation of the kind of 1950s nonrock music that seems lost in the mists of time . . . If you're sick of the same old, "My Flame Burns Blue" is a pretty good way to break out of your rut.

Costello's 'Flame' burns brightly
The latest and most interesting addition to the small club of crossover rockers is Elvis Costello . . . his own good musical sense and his seemingly innate knowledge of the improvisational "rules" of jazz have eased Mr. Costello's crossover journey and made "Il Sogno" a pleasant and interesting experience, if not an earth-shattering one. In his latest crossover CD, "My Flame Burns Blue," just issued by Deutsche Grammophon and featuring live performances with the Metropole Orkest, Mr. Costello may have created a true breakthrough recording . . . With this CD, he just might find his new audience . . . "My Flame Burns Blue" is a pretty good way to break out of your rut.

. . . Costello's voice still towers, especially on the album's numerous ballads . . .

"My Flame Burns Blue" . . . shows just how wide and variable Costello's repertoire has grown . . . "My Flame" highlights Costello's experimental tendencies as an arranger, its bonus disc ż an often stunning symphonic suite excerpted from his first purely instrumental work, "Il Sogno" ż foregrounds his ambitions as a composer. Both are executed with the finesse and enthusiasm that, after nearly 30 years, still make Costello essential listening.

While "My Flame" highlights Costello's experimental tendencies as an arranger, its bonus disc ż an often stunning symphonic suite excerpted from his first purely instrumental work, "Il Sogno" ż foregrounds his ambitions as a composer. Both are executed with the finesse and enthusiasm that, after nearly 30 years, still make Costello essential listening.

Elvis Costello builds another strong case for his prowess as a vibrant jazz vocal stylist.

. . . there is not shortage of risk, grandeur or fun, an ingenious, moving combination . . . Costello is up there . . . singing with a force and clarity as big and regal as the music around him.

Just when it seemed Elvis Costello couldn't possibly have any new tricks up his sleeve, along comes his double-disc set to reconfirm his status as the most cunning musical magician of the past quarter-century . . . as the ever-provocative father of inspired reinvention, Elvis is king.

Vielleicht ist Elvis Costello der letzte Vertreter der aussterbenden Gattung "musikalisches Universalgenie": Rock und Pop kann er natürlich, Jazz und Swing plus Easy Listening auch, und selbst in der Klassik hat sich der Brite inzwischen Anerkennung erspielt. Auf dem Livemitschnitt "My Flame Burns Blue" (Deutsche Grammophon) sind alle Facetten von Costellos Talent in erstklassigen Jazz- und Big-Band-Arrangements zu hören.

. . . [Costello] entpuppte sich als fulminanter Jazz-Vokalist.

Vom Punker zum Jazz-Chansonnier: Costellos stilistischer Routenplaner spielt laufend verrückt ż und es hört sich gut an . . . Dass er auch als Klassik-Neutöner beachtlich abschneidet, zeigt sein Shakespeare-Ballett "Il Sogno": Costello goes Gershwin.

Er tut Erstaunliches . . . Die Art und Weise, wie er seine Werke hier zum Klingen bringt, zeigt einmal mehr, wie großartig Costellos Songs sind, welche Tiefen darin stecken. wie unberechenbar sie sind, aber auch wie facettenreich, und vor allem auch, welche enorme Flexibilität Costello an den Tag legt, ist er doch unbestritten einer der vielseitigsten und kreativsten zeitgenössischen Musiker. Die Arbeits- und Wirkungsweise von Frank Zappa lässt grüßen.