Genre-crossing Elvis Costello here succeeds in mixing his serrated rock, sophisticated pop, jazz and classical pursuits on his latest album, My Flame Burns Blue.
The multidimensional outing was recorded in concert at The Hague in 2004 with the Metropole Orkest, Holland's famed jazz orchestra (a bonus disc excerpts Il Sogno, the 2004 ballet score Costello wrote and recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra). Upping the appeal to Costellophiles, most performances are songs heretofore unreleased by the prolific singer-songwriter, or infrequently performed odds and ends.
Lead cut "Hora Decubitis" merits special note, as it involves Costello's post-9/11, life-affirming words to music by late jazz great Charles Mingus.
The title track likewise features his lyrics for Duke Ellington collaborator Billy Strayhorn's final composition.
Costello's music, meanwhile, ranges from the intriguingly arty "Speak Darkly, My Angel," which he penned originally for opera singer Anne Sofie von Otter, to the sparing ballad "Upon a Veil of Midnight Blue." He wrote the latter song for blues stylist Charles Brown and showcases his own pop/jazz vocal mastery.
And if all this is too challenging for fans of his traditional rock quartet format, longtime keyboard accompanist Steve Nieve is there to help reinvent a few Costello classics, including a horn-fueled "Watching the Detectives."