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Elton John recording album with Leon Russell


Singer songwriter Elton John poses for photographers as he opens charity store 'Out the Closet' in Covent Garden in London, December 11, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Singer songwriter Elton John poses for photographers as he opens charity store 'Out the Closet' in Covent Garden in London, December 11, 2009. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

By David J. Prince

NEW YORK (Billboard) - In an unexpected pairing, Elton John and Leon Russell are recording an album together in Los Angeles with producer T Bone Burnett. Both performers have written songs for the project, which has no title or release date yet.

Billboard.com has learned that Neil Young, Booker T. Jones, Marc Ribot and Jim Keltner are among the guests who have contributed to the album.

According to a post on the Web site of longtime John collaborator Bernie Taupin, 15 songs have been put to tape, "from Stones-like rockers, country-tinged ballads, gospel and even a Sinatra-like weepy similar to something torn from the grooves of 'In the Wee Small Hours.'"

"It's varied in scope and drenched in a rich tapestry of atmospherics," Taupin says. "Don't expect to hear the old EJ/BT sound; this is organic recording unlike anything you've heard from our duo before."

John's last studio album was 2006's "The Captain and the Kid." He is winding down a spring tour with Billy Joel and has solo tour dates on tap through September.

Russell, 67, has been largely out of the spotlight in recent years, releasing albums on his Leon Russell Records label. He underwent brain surgery in January, but Taupin says "his playing is masterful as ever and his contribution to the project grows more exciting with the passing of every day."

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