Kurt's News Archive - 2010

Once again, Kurt Elling has been voted best Male Vocalist in the 2010 JazzTimes Readers' Poll. This is his sixth win.

Honorable mention this year (second, third, and fourth place) goes to Bobby McFerrin, Jamie Cullum, and Al Jarreau. Thanks to all who voted, and congratulations to all the artists!

Full results of the JazzTimes Readers' Poll are in the January/February issue of the magazine, available now digitally and on the newsstand January 4. (Subscribers get their copies earlier.)

This is Kurt's fourth major award in 2010, in addition to receiving the GRAMMY for Best Jazz Vocal Album for "Dedicated to You." His full list of awards is here.

As always, many congratulations, Kurt!

Chicago Jazz Magazine cover.jpg

Kurt and Laurence sat down recently to talk with Chicago Jazz Magazine about winning the Grammy, their forthcoming album The Gate, and their various special projects.

Of special interest is their discussion of the great musicians on The Gate -- John Patitucci, Terreon Gully, Bob Mintzer, and John McLean -- and the experience of working with the legendary Don Was, who produced it. Their conversation also touches on jazz singing and jazz singers, scatting, what makes a pop tune worth reworking into a jazz arrangement, building on the deep history of jazz music, and jazz musicians playing outside of their comfort zone where true creativity happens.

Laurence comments about The Gate:

I think it is possible for master musicians who have really evolved through their own internal process and through the process they have been through with all the groups they have played with before...to arrive in a place where they can play with great intensity and great mindfulness without having it seem like they are trying....

It is this place you can get to, where you are comfortable enough in your own skin that you can relax and relinquish the need to control, and you end up becoming responsive and reactive without being passive. It's like being in a conversation and knowing just exactly the right thing to say. And saying no more and no less than what needs to be said.... I love the fact that our producer, Don Was, sat both at the sessions, and then met us in L.A. to finish the record and to mix it. The first thing he said was, "The thing I love about this record is nobody is trying.”

The sound is so full. I feel like what we've done on this record is very elegant, very patient and meaningful.

Their full interview is here.

Once again, the critics have spoken. Kurt is the top male vocalist in the 58th DownBeat Critics Poll!

He has been named the DownBeat Critics Poll Male Vocalist of the Year for eleven consecutive years, from 2000 through 2010, and was awarded Talent Deserving Wider Recognition from 1997 to 2000.

This year's top five finishers also included Andy Bey, Mark Murphy, Freddy Cole, and Bobby McFerrin.

Congratulations to all these greats, and especially to Kurt!

The Jazz Journalists Association has named Kurt Elling its Male Singer of the Year! The fourteenth annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards ceremony was held June 14, 2010 at City Winery in New York.

This is Kurt's sixth JJA Jazz Award. He previously won in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, and 2009.

Other nominees for Male Singer of the Year were Tony Bennett, Andy Bey, Freddy Cole, Giacomo Gates, and Bill Henderson.

The 2010 JJA Jazz Awards ceremony was hosted by Terrance McKnight of New York City's WQXR-FM. Awards were presented in more than 40 categories of excellence in making and documenting jazz. In addition, new members of an "A Team" of advocates, activists, altruists, aiders and abettors of jazz were introduced.

As Howard Mandel, president of the Jazz Journalists Association said,

Somebody ought to stand up for jazz musicians and journalists. Oh, audiences applaud and reader-listeners sometimes compliment the writer, photographer or broadcaster who delivers words, images and the sound of music using whatever medium they happen to employ. But the best jazz musicians and jazz journalists are hardworking, exceptionally creative people who have dug a rich but narrow niche between commercial pop and classically "artistic” culture with slight reward other than their work itself. So they deserve a little extra appreciation—and the Jazz Journalists Association's Jazz Awards try to do that very thing.

For the first time, the JJA Jazz Awards were streamed live on the Internet, and satellite parties were held in six cities, all celebrating those who make and document jazz at the highest levels of excellence.

Photographs, video of the awards ceremony, and the full list of this year's winners are all here.

Congratulations to all the winners, and especially to Kurt!

The jazz world is celebrating as one of the jazz community's most revered artists finally received his just due. Premiere vocalist Kurt Elling won his first ever GRAMMY, the Best Jazz Vocal Album award for Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman.

Elling has been named "the jazz stand-out male vocalist of our time” by the New York Times and "perhaps the most distinctive singer on the American scene” by the Sunday Times UK, and has been nominated for every album in his canon. This marks the artist's first GRAMMY win on his stellar ninth nomination overall. The vocalist also co-hosted the GRAMMY Pre-Telecast awards show with fellow nominee and actress Tia Carrere and performed a beautiful duet of "God Bless The Child” with Concord Music Group label mate and nominee Lalah Hathaway.

Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman was recorded live at the Allen Room at Lincoln Center. Since its release, the collection has garnered critical praise. The Washington Post wrote: "With his soaring vocal flights, his edgy lyrics and sense of being on a musical mission, he has come to embody the creative spirit in jazz” while the Chicago Tribune wrote, "some of the best ballad singing being performed today.”

Kurt Elling is currently recording his forthcoming album which is slated for a fall 2010 release.

Hearty and sincere congratulations, Kurt!

Kurt brings home his very first GRAMMY for the exquisitely beautiful, tasteful, and always swingin' Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman.

This was Kurt's ninth nomination -- each and every Elling album has been nominated. Laurence Hobgood was also nominated this year for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist for the title tune, "Dedicated to You," done lovingly with strings in a very hip arrangement. His solo on that tune is awesome, too.

Bravo and congratulations, Kurt! And congratulations, Laurence! And also to all the fabulous musicians on this album: the great and groovy Ernie Watts on tenor, bassist Clark Sommers, drummer Ulysses Owens, and the string quartet ETHEL with Cornelius Dufallo, Ralph Farris, Dorothy Lawson, and Mary Rowell.

Well done and well deserved, everyone!       GRAMMY statue.jpg

By Neil Tesser, Chicago Jazz Music Examiner, January 25, 2010

This just in: jazz vocal star Kurt Elling will be a winner this Sunday at the 52nd annual GRAMMY® Awards.

The Chicago-bred Elling's is nominated for Dedicated To You (Concord), a highly romantic set of standards immortalized by saxophonist John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman. It's the most accessible album, and also the most widely praised, in his discography, and it offers his best chance yet to take home the little gold Gramophone on January 31.

But whether or not he gets the award, that day is shaping up as a triumph for Elling nonetheless. Last week we got news that he'll perform a duet with Lalah Hathaway -- daughter of Chicago's own soul-music legend Donny Hathaway -- during the pre-telecast ceremonies.

Now comes word that Elling will also co-host the entire pre-tel program, giving the mostly non-jazz crowd at Staples Center a taste of his winning onstage persona and hip comedic sense. The announcement will be made in a GRAMMY press release first thing Monday morning.

The Chicago-bred Elling has made eight albums, and every one of them has garnered at least one GRAMMY nomination, although he's yet to win the statue (making him the Peter O'Toole of jazz singers).

The pre-telecast GRAMMY ceremony actually accounts for the vast majority of the awards presented each year: only about a dozen awards of the 108 category winners are announced during the 3.5-hour GRAMMY telecast on CBS-TV, with the remaining (90-plus) winners presented several hours earlier. The pre-tel event has been significantly upgraded in recent years, from a rushed cattle call to a relaxed and classy ceremony featuring a live band, several performances, and guest presenters.

And this year, the always engaging and often comedic stylings of Kurt Elling.

The entire pre-tel event streams live Sunday, January 31, starting at 3 PM in Chicago. The CBS network telecast of the 52nd GRAMMY Awards begins at 7.

The 2010 Nightlife Awards have named Kurt Elling as Outstanding Jazz Vocalist in a Major Engagement.

Now in its eighth year, the Nightlife Awards honor the best of New York's cabaret, comedy, and jazz, bestowed by a distinguished panel of more than two dozen critics and experts. The awards concert is the only show where the winners perform, rather than give acceptance speeches, showing why they were selected.

Kurt and Laurence Hobgood will perform at the awards ceremony at Town Hall in New York City on January 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm.

Comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch is hosting. Among the evening's winners performing are Christine Ebersole, Cheyenne Jackson, Kurt Elling, Eric Comstock & Barbara Fasano, Anne Steele, Baby Jane Dexter, Johnny Rodgers, and Gretchen Reinhagen. Other winners include Michael Feinstein, Sheila Jordan, Hank Jones, Bad Plus, Louis CK, John Mulaney and Slovin and Allen.

Additional performers include Miranda, John Piazzarelli and Jessica Molaskey, James Barbour, Jim Caruso, Tovah Feldshuh, Howard Fishman, Nellie McKay, Jay Leonhart, Noah Racey & the NY Tap Ensemble, and Martin Vidnovic.

Ticketing and other information for this star-studded evening is here.

As always, congratulations, Kurt!