Kurt's News Archive - 2006

DownBeat's readers have spoken, and once again Kurt is their choice for Male Vocalist of the Year.

In July, the DownBeat Critics poll awarded him the same high honor.

This is the third time he's won top spot in both polls.

* Critics Poll Winner: Male Vocalist of the Year -- 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006
* Critics Poll Winner: Talent Deserving Wider Recognition -- 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
* Readers Poll Winner: Male Vocalist of the Year -- 2002, 2004, 2006

Congratulations, Kurt!

November 17th, 2006

Limited Edition LEGENDS OF JAZZ Boxed Set

4DVDs, 4CDs, and Coffee Table Book
$199.98 $139.98 for Kurt fans

Now you can give the gift of music in one stunning, multi-media package. The LEGENDS OF JAZZ with Ramsey Lewis Limited Edition Boxed Set showcases America's music, as seen on the TV series, in 4 DVDs, 4 CDs, and a gorgeous 230-page Coffee Table Book profiling the legendary artists who appeared. Kurt Elling appears in The Jazz Singers episode which is featured in this boxed set, and there are never before released photographs of him inside the coffee table book! His performance of "Take Five” as a duet with Al Jarreau is destined to be a classic!

Visit http://www.legendsofjazz.net/store/boxedset to view a sample chapter of the book and to purchase. Use the promo code 58783 to save $60 at check out for being a fan of Kurt!

Concord Records is proud to announce that Grammy-nominated singer Kurt Elling has signed an exclusive recording contract with the company. His Concord debut is scheduled to be released in early 2007.

Elling has risen to international acclaim as a jazz artist and singer, in just 10 short years as professional. All of his six previous albums have been nominated for Grammy awards, including three nods for Best Jazz Vocal Album. Kurt has topped Downbeat Critic's and Jazz Times Readers polls every year since 2000. He's won the Jazz Journalists Association award for best male vocalist three times and earned the Prix Billie Holiday from the Academie du Jazz in Paris. One of Elling's major contributions is as a writer and performer of vocalese, the art of putting words to improvised solos of jazz artists.

Kurt is extremely excited about joining Concord Records. He states, "I'm so very happy to be part of the Concord family. I have the utmost respect for the label. They produce some amazing music and I am looking forward to releasing my Concord debut.”

John Burk, Executive Vice President of A&R at Concord Music Group, commented, "We're honored that Kurt has teamed with Concord to continue his remarkable career. We believe there is no limit to his talent and potential and look forward to an incredibly rewarding relationship.”

Mr. Elling's sure-footed musicality and literary sensibility have made him one of the premier vocalists of our time. He comes with a flexible rhythm section — the pianist Laurence Hobgood, the bassist Robert Amster and the drummer Willie Jones III — along with a guest saxophonist, Bob Mintzer, and the Escher String Quartet. At 8:30 p.m., November 8, Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall, (212) 247-7800, carnegiehall.org

-- Nate Chinen, The New York Times

October 23rd, 2006

Kurt Elling has announced that a new recording is in progress. Speaking from London, where he is on tour with his band, Mr. Elling said that the first full week of October was taken up with tracking at Avatar Studios in New York City. Mixing and editing is in progress.

"We are taking a lot of chances with this new disc, and I have a new team to help me put things together," he said. "For the first time I am experimenting with a collaborative producer in addition to my regular creative partner Laurence Hobgood. This time we are working with a friend of mine from my Recording Academy days named Joe Chiccarelli who has helped everyone from U2 to Carole King to Turtle Island to Elton John. I'm really excited about what we're making. I have hand-chosen each of the compositions myself, but they are really coming alive in ways I did not expect thanks to Joe and the team. I can hardly wait for people to hear what we are making."

Guests for the forthcoming release, Elling's first for Concord Records, include Bob Mintzer (tenor), Christian McBride (bass), Romero Lubamo (guitar), Gregoire Maret (harmonica) and the Escher String Quartet. Selections include new arrangements of compositions by Duke Ellington, A.C. Jobim, Betty Carter, Fred Hersch, Alan Pasqua, and Michael Franks. Many of these arrangements feature new lyrics by Kurt Elling.

Expect a February release in the U.S. and a may release in Europe.

October 20th, 2006

for The Independent.

This column has not always been noted for its friendliness towards jazz vocalists. That, I would contend, is only because many who call themselves such have not proved themselves worthy to bear the mantle of the jazz tradition. But praise will be given where it is due, and it is certainly owed to an American singer whose European tour brings him to the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in Soho from tomorrow night. Thirty-eight-year-old Kurt Elling is quite simply the most remarkable jazz vocalist of his generation, and just as much of a find as Bobby McFerrin was when he arrived 20 years ago.

You're less likely to have heard of Elling, though, as the Chicagoan lacks the commercial-friendly touch that gave McFerrin a genuine hit with "Don't Worry, Be Happy". Instead, there's a thrilling severity to Elling's approach that allows him to rank with the most serious of instrumentalists.

He can sing (and write) relatively straightforward melodies, such as the lovely "Man in the Air", the title track of his 2003 Blue Note album. In this aspect alone, he is already superior to the dime-a-dozen crooners who crop up like clockwork nowadays. But what raises him way above the rest is his quite staggering ability at scatting and vocalese.

Both of these are very difficult disciplines, requiring a dexterity far beyond that necessary merely to interpret a song. The exponents of vocalese - the art of setting words both to instrumental tunes and to solos - have never numbered many, but include the illustrious names of Eddie Jefferson and Jon Hendricks, who has tackled compositions by everyone from Count Basie to Rachmaninoff.

But I'm not sure anyone has attempted anything quite as ambitious as Elling's vocalese version of "Resolution" from Coltrane's A Love Supreme, a work that inspires such awe that few dare touch it. Elling not only brings the spiritual aspect of the piece clearly to the fore, but magnificently sings his way through the entirety of Coltrane's tenor sax solo. It's one of those very rare occasions - one other that springs to mind is the take by Elling's mentor, Mark Murphy, on Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay" - when a definitive masterpiece is reinterpreted in a manner that complements and almost equals the original.

As for Elling's scatting, nobody can match him for speed, invention and attack in this department. His recording of Herbie Hancock's "Eye of the Hurricane" with the Bob Mintzer Big Band is absolutely astounding. One breathtaking solo is followed by a later duel with Mintzer, in which the leader's sax is utterly trounced by the machine-gun syllables and wild screeching of his guest vocalist.

Nat "King" Cole it ain't. But to find out what jazz singing is really about, Elling's your man.

The 49th annual Monterey Jazz Festival, presented by Verizon, will provide a weekend of R&R Sept. 15, 16 and 17 to soothe and excite fans.

The weekend of sizzling singers on the Jimmy Lyons Stage in the Monterey County fairgrounds' main arena will include Kurt Elling, a vocalese master whose voice alternates between perfect mimicry of instruments to diverse, dramatic dialogue lyrically delivered.

Elling, Monterey Jazz Festival's 2006 artist-in-residence, will have a busy weekend all over the fairgrounds. He will extend the musical mentoring role he has played for several months with the talented teens deemed the best in America, named outstanding soloists and selected for the all-star Next Generation Jazz Orchestra during the festival's 36th annual national high school competition held last spring.

Elling will be the set leader for the Friday night premier of "Red Man - Black Man" with the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra, led by John and Jeff Clayton and Jeff Hamilton as special guests in the arena.

His weekend duties will include the intellectually and culturally stimulating conversation "Jazz and Creative Collaboration" with Laurence Hobgood at 4 p.m. Saturday in Dizzy's Den; a Saturday night return to open Dizzy's Den at 8:30 p.m.; and a guest stint with the Next Generation teenagers Sunday afternoon in the main arena.

-- Taylor Jordan, Black Press News

This week Kurt Elling signed a new multi-disc recording contract with Concord Records. Elling joins a Concord family that includes Al Jarreau, George Benson, Benny Golson, Chick Corea, Clark Terry, Karryn Alison and many, many other vital Jazz artists. Based in Los Angeles, The Concord Music Group currently controls the historic Pablo, Stax, Telarc, Riverside and Fantasy catalogues (www.concordmusicgroup.com).

Recoring begins next month on a new Kurt Elling album - this time in collaboration with multi-Grammy winning producer Joe Chiccarelli. Look for a February release.

Don't forget to pick up your copy of Legends of Jazz: Season 1, Volume 1 featuring Kurt Elling! The CD/DVD combo contains Kurt Elling's episode on the series, "The Jazz Singers" and his performances of "She's Funny That Way" and "Take Five" with Al Jarreau. For more information and to purchase your copy visit the Official Legends of Jazz site.

Here's a sample clip from the show:

We are proud to announce Kurt's seventh consecutive win of the DownBeat
Critics Poll. Complete results are listed in the August edition of the
magazine, on newsstands now.

Along with this month's edition comes an official ballot for the Readers
Poll. Don't forget to fill in your ballot and mail it by
August 29.

For radio station program directors, record label representatives and jazz artists, the JazzWeek Awards recognize excellence in performance, promotion, marketing and artist relations.

Vocalist of the Year went to Kurt Elling who also recently won the Male Jazz Singer of the Year award from the Jazz Journalists Association and Instrumentalist of the Year went to saxophonist Chris Potter. The Jaco Pastorius Big Band won Record of the Year for The Word is Out, a collection of previously unreleased compositions.


Full list of winners here.

The Jazz Awards are presented in 41 categories, including Lifetime Achievement in Jazz and in Jazz Journalism, and also honor jazz advocates, activists, altruists, aiders and abettors in an "A Team" selected by an executive committee of the JJA's freelance writers, photographers, broadcasters, educators and website creators. All nominees are invited guests at the party at B.B. King's, a fundraiser supporting the non-profit JJA's education, audience-outreach and professional mentoring initiatives.

May 18th, 2006

KE has been nominated as a finalist for a Jazz Journalists Association Jazz
Award, in the category of Male Singer of the Year.

The finalists in all 41 Jazz Awards categories are posted at

The 10th annual gala celebration of the Jazz Awards, celebrating excellence
in music and jazz journalism, will be held at B.B. King's Blues Club and Grill,
237 W. 42nd St. in New York, on Monday, June 19th.

kurt elling and al jarreau.jpg

Catch Kurt Elling appearing on Legends of Jazz, airing on local PBS stations. The 13-week season features intimate conversations and original performances by some of the world's leading musicians. To celebrate the show, Legends of Jazz released a CD and DVD with highlights from the series. The CD/DVD combo contains Kurt Elling's episode on the series, "The Jazz Singers" and his performances of "She's Funny That Way" and "Take Five" with Al Jarreau. For more information and to check local listings please visit www.legendsofjazz.net

kurt elling and al jarreau 2.jpg