Kurt's News Archive - 2008

KE Live in Montreal.jpg

Kurt Elling's first DVD, "Live in Montreal," has just been released in Europe! Recorded at the 2007 Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, this special DVD features selections from Kurt's latest album, "Nightmoves."

He's joined by Laurence Hobgood (piano), Rob Amster (bass), Willie Jones III (drums), Guilherme Monteiro (guitar), Howard Levy (harmonica), and Bob Sheppard (saxophone). Special guests: Randy Bachman (guitar) and Richard Bona (bass).

Kurt in the live setting is something to behold, as he's an artist at the very height of his powers, a true virtuoso in complete command of that most marvelous instrument, his voice. Sometimes said to have "a voice like Stradivarius," Elling's total vocal command and virtuosity are rarely matched by vocalists in any field.

Whether it's his breath control, his ability to circular breathe (sustaining note for impossibly long periods), his range, timing and phrasing, and his deft humor, Elling is pretty much in a league of his own. A true vocal tour de force, this is Elling at his best, performing live and in the moment and sharing his remarkable gift with all of us.


My Foolish Heart
Change Partners/If You Never Come To Me
And We Will Fly
The Waking
A New Body And Soul
Nature Boy
Leaving Again/In The Wee Small Hours

Extras: Documentary (47 min.) with Kurt Elling, Bob Sheppard, Mary Ann Topper, Rob Amster, Laurence Hobgood, Randy Bachman, Richard Bona, Mark Murphy, Guilherme Monteiro, and Howard Levy

UPDATE 02/14/09: This DVD is on the Emarcy label, part of the Universal Music Group family. Released only in Europe, it's actually in NTSC format for all regions so it can be played in the US and elsewhere. Now available in fine web stores everywhere (or at least throughout Europe) -- Google "Kurt Elling" "Live in Montreal" to find your copy.

Kurt topped both the Downbeat Readers and Critics Polls this year as best male vocalist. A clean sweep!

73rd Annual Downbeat Readers Poll results:

Male Vocals

518 Kurt Elling
357 Tony Bennett
206 Bobby McFerrin
144 Joao Gilberto
143 Mark Murphy

And surprise, surprise:

Jazz Artist Album

331 Michael Brecker - Pilgrimage
292 Herbie Hancock - River
242 Maria Schneider - Sky Blue
182 Kurt Elling - Nightmoves
171 Keith Jarrett Trio - My Foolish Heart

Kurt's many Downbeat awards:

* Critics Poll Winner: Male Vocalist of the Year -- 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
* Critics Poll Winner: Talent Deserving Wider Recognition -- 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
* Readers Poll Winner: Male Vocalist of the Year -- 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008

Thanks to everyone who voted in this year's Downbeat Readers Poll. And as always, many congratulations, Kurt!

Bloomberg TV's "Night Talk" anchor Mike Schneider goes one on one with the world's most interesting people.

On Thursday, October 30, it's Kurt Elling!

"Night Talk" provides viewers with access to some of the greatest minds in business, politics, arts and sciences and more. Mike Schneider hosts stimulating conversations with the big names and big-names-to-be in the world of politics, business, sports and entertainment. Hear their stories and gain insight into the minds of the world's best and brightest.

"Night Talk" airs on Bloomberg TV at 10 pm on weeknights and is also simulcast on Bloomberg Radio at 10 pm.

Some podcasts are also available later. No word yet about whether this will be podcast as well.

September 26th, 2008


Jazz for America's Future presents a benefit concert, Jazz for Obama, Wednesday, October 1, 2008, 7:30 pm at New York's 92nd Street Y (92nd and Lexington). Doors open at 6:30 pm.

This star-studded show features Kurt Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dianne Reeves, Roy Haynes, Brad Mehldau, Joe Lovano, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, Stanley Jordan, Hank Jones, Charlie Hunter/Doug Wamble Duo, Bilal/Robert Glasper, Stefon Harris, Roberta Gambarini, + very special guests.

Tickets are:

$100 General Admission
$250 VIP Reserved Seating and Post-Concert Reception
$50 Student Tickets (Limited Availability)

All proceeds to benefit the Obama for America Presidential Campaign.

KE Jan-08 Dedicated.png

This season Kurt brings Ernie Watts and Ethel aboard for Dedicated to You, his creative re-imagining of John Coltrane's collaboration with romantic balladeer Johnny Hartman.

John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman, recorded in 1963, became an instant classic, the gold standard of jazz ballad albums.

Now Kurt boldly revisits and reinterprets songs from Coltrane and Hartman, the saxophonist's sole collaboration with a vocalist and one of the most romantic albums ever recorded. Ernie Watts -- whose resumé runs the gamut from Monk to Zappa -- blows stunning solos in Trane's stead while Elling breathes new life into Hartman's sensual songbook. The Laurence Hobgood Trio and the postclassical string quartet Ethel provide lush new settings of this classic material. The original is indelible; the homage is inspired.

See the Touring page for more information.

Thursday, September 11, 2008 
Bing Theatre
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

Sunday, September 21, 2008
Monterey Jazz Festival
Monterey, CA

Sunday, October 19, 2008
Eastman School
Rochester, NY

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Queen Elizabeth Hall
London, England

Friday, January 23, 2009
Wentz Concert Hall
Naperville, IL

Saturday, January 24, 2009
Hancher Auditorium
Iowa City, IA

Thursday, February 12, 2009
Lobero Theatre
Santa Barbara, CA

Friday, February 20, 2009
Ted Mann Theatre
Minneapolis, MN

Saturday, February 28, 2009
The Kennedy Center
Washington, DC

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Michigan Theatre
Ann Arbor, MI

DownBeat's critics have spoken, and for the ninth year in a row, Kurt Elling is their choice for Male Vocalist of the Year!

Kurt Elling -- 243
Andy Bey -- 175
Mark Murphy -- 95
Tony Bennett -- 67
Freddy Cole -- 50

To vote yourself in this year's DownBeat Readers Poll, open to jazz lovers everywhere, just go to the DownBeat site and click the 73rd Readers Poll VOTE! button at the top left.

Readers Poll voting closes August 24. 2008. Results will be announced later this year.

Kurt's many DownBeat awards:

* Critics Poll Winner: Male Vocalist of the Year -- 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
* Critics Poll Winner: Talent Deserving Wider Recognition -- 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000
* Readers Poll Winner: Male Vocalist of the Year -- 2002, 2004, 2006

As always, congratulations, Kurt!!!

Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein
Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 8 pm
92nd St. Y, New York, NY

Jazz in July opens this year with a program dedicated to the songs of Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein would have turned 90 this year, and this show is one of a number of tributes in New York honoring this charismatic musical force who personified the intersection of American popular song, classical music and jazz. Bernstein first achieved eminence as a classical composer and conductor, though he began writing popular songs while still in college. His repertoire of unforgettable songs - including classics from On the Town and West Side Story - are infused with a jazz sensibility and a quintessentially urban quality.

Bill Charlap, who explored Bernstein's songs on his Grammy-nominated 2004 recording Somewhere, gathers an ensemble of leading jazz musicians to dig into this remarkable catalog, with guest vocalist Kurt Elling giving voice to the songs. Elling is an eight-time winner of Downbeat's Critic's Poll for Best Male Vocalist and a charismatic performer known for his four-octave range, virtuoso vocalese (setting lyrics to instrumental solos), and powerful stage persona. The band features Bill Charlap (piano), Ted Rosenthal (piano), Brian Lynch (trumpet), Jimmy Greene (tenor saxophone), Jon Gordon (alto saxophone), Peter Washington (bass) and Kenny Washington (drums).

Starry Night
University of Southern California
Los Angeles
July 12, 2008

Knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1996, Sir George Martin is listed in the Guinness World Records as the most successful producer ever, with more than 50 No. 1 hit records over five decades in the United States and Great Britain alone. The recordings he has produced have collectively sold more than 1 billion units worldwide. His award-winning work across every conceivable recording genre and style is unmatched. It includes classical, comedy, jazz, pop, country, R&B, rock and roll, film scores, television scores and more, producing the longest run of No. 1 hits songs in history — more than 36 years.

As mentor and creative collaborator, Martin helped steward and bring to the world the Beatles — one of the most original, successful, and influential music phenomena in popular music history. Best known as the Beatles' producer, he signed them and subsequently produced and arranged nearly all the Beatles' records, even playing on many of the most memorable John Lennon/Paul McCartney songs.

This GRAMMY Foundation Starry Night benefit will feature performances by Grammy nominees and winners, including A Fine Frenzy aka Alison Sudol, America, Burt Bacharach, Jeff Beck, Chris Botti, Natalie Cole, Kurt Elling, Dave Grusin, Tom Jones, Michael McDonald, Naomi Sommers, and Jimmy Webb. In addition, members of the Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles will perform. The high school students selected from across the United States attending the fourth annual GRAMMY Camp — held this year from July 12–26 at USC — will also be in attendance.

The distinguished group of dinner chairs for this event include Olivia Harrison, Sir Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr.

This intimate dinner and concert will benefit the GRAMMY Foundation, which provides programs that foster future generations of music professionals and helps preserve our nation's musical heritage.

The legendary Marian McPartland hosts Laurence Hobgood on NPR's Piano Jazz, beginning May 23. Imagine these two keyboard giants playing together!

Check local listings -- stations have two weeks to air the broadcast. After that, it will be available for your listening pleasure in the Piano Jazz past stories.

Kurt's long-time musical director, arranger, gifted pianist, and exceptional soloist and trio leader, Laurence performs his own tune, "The Smuggler," and joins McPartland on "Things Ain't What They Used to Be."

Laurence says, "It was both charming and an honor to do the show with Marian. She's a fun, graceful host with a famous sense of humor, and I enjoyed it immensely."

Laurence and Kurt have worked closely for 15 years. He co-produced and plays on all seven of Kurt's Grammy-nominated albums. In addition, Laurence has recorded one solo album, "Left to My Own Devices," and three trio albums, "Union," "State of the Union," and "Crazy World."

He's particularly excited about his next one, "When the Heart Dances," duets with Charlie Haden and special guest Kurt Elling. Recorded in True Stereo, "When the Heart Dances" will be released in the fall. All Laurence's albums are on the Naim label.

Laurence tells us, "Charlie sounds amazing. It was such an honor to play with him, especially in so intimate a setting. We recorded at Cal Arts, where he founded the jazz program, in their excellent recital hall. The Steinway D was one of the truly special, singing instruments I've had the opportunity to play."

Tune in to Piano Jazz beginning May 23.

And read more about Laurence here.

Kurt Elling and the Laurence Hobgood Trio opened new musical vistas during their recent Australian tour, playing two wonderful nights with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the iconic Sydney Opera House. The lush, swinging orchestral arrangements prompted one reviewer to call the evening "Ellingant!" Their April 17 performance is in the archives here.

On this trip, the KEQ also appeared with the Adelaide Symphony and then headlined the Melbourne Jazz Festival.

In March, their SE Asia tour included Indonesia's Java Jazz Festival and performances in Singapore and the Philipines.

The New York Times says Kurt Elling is 'the standout male jazz vocalist of our times." His smooth four-octave baritone, searching intelligence and magnetic stage presence have earned him seven Grammy nominations, and he's topped jazz bible Downbeat Magazine's critics' poll for male vocalist seven years running.

The only thing to match his astonishing vocal range is his emotional range: from quietly crooned love songs to high-spirited virtuoso displays, there's nothing he can't do and no subject he won't tackle. For Elling, it's about communication. He says, "I want people to be surprised, to be moved, to laugh, to remember something important they may have forgotten. I want them to have what they need."

January 9th, 2008

The 35th annual International Association of Jazz Educators conference in Toronto focused on "New Visions for New Times."

In addition to his stellar performance with the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, Kurt presented the keynote address, telling stories about his own life and touching on the state of jazz -- present and future.

He inspired assembled jazz educators to be exceptional role models as people and musicians and to draw forth their students' unique gifts and imaginations.

"No one is saying that your job is to create geniuses – that is an impossible task. But it is your calling at least to give a deep experience of humanity and music to students, and to seed the clouds.

"Young people desire and deserve a noble calling in life. Jazz mirrors and reminds us of the fact that we are ALIVE! I advise you set the glorious and elaborate table of artistic endeavor. Working artists like me can do our work, provide what artistic inspiration we can, and do our best to give when we have the opportunity. But you are the on-site leaders of the next generation.

"After all, what we really need — what we really seek as people — is a revolution of consciousness. It is what great music fosters best. It is the only music worth striving for. There is inspiration and rebuke in art at this level. Who hasn't listened to Keith, Brecker or Dave Liebman or the VSOP Quintet and not felt at the same time thrilled and a little ashamed? We feel inspiration because it is always uplifting to hear open hearts that are married to virtuosic techniques. We feel rebuke in the open question, 'And why have you not yet measured up to you own potential, dear listener?'"

Enjoy the full text here.