Kurt's News Archive - 2012

1619 Broadway - Grammy nominated

On December 5 when the 55th annual Grammy nominations were announced in Nashville and Los Angeles, renowned jazz vocalist Kurt Elling was honored with his tenth Grammy nomination for 1619 Broadway - The Brill Building Project in the Best Jazz Vocal category.

Every one of Kurt's albums has been Grammy nominated. Ten albums, twelve nominations in all -- that's excellence!

The New York Times is one of numerous publications to declare that Kurt Elling is the "standout male vocalist of our time." With this new album, Elling celebrates a legendary legacy from outside the jazz world. 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project honors a locale that the London Telegraph called "the most important generator of popular songs in the Western world."

"Having done so many projects about my love for Chicago," Elling says, "I wanted to make something that spoke of my love for New York."

"I didn't want to cover any of the New York songwriters jazz people usually go to: the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, all of whom I love; I wanted to reach out for something different for jazz. The vast collection of songs coming out of The Brill Building seemed like a gold mine."

A honeycomb of offices and claustrophobic studios at 1619 Broadway, in the heart of midtown Manhattan, the fabled Brill Building at its peak served as the creative home for more than 160 tenants associated with the pop-music industry. Of these, the vast majority were composers and lyricists. Duke Ellington's publishing company had an office there; Paul Simon still does. From the mid-1930s through the early 1970s the architects of the "Brill Building Sound" churned out a preponderance of the popular songs that three generations of America grew up hearing and singing.

On track after track Kurt Elling and Laurence Hobgood, his collaborator for nearly two decades, illustrate the creative fireworks that have marked their work together from the start. Some tracks, such as "On Broadway" and "You Send Me," glow with atmospheric reharmonizations (either audacious or subtle), unexpected rhythms, and jazz sensibility.

Others, such as "I'm Satisfied" and "A House Is Not A Home," artfully distill the essence of the original through a jazz filter. But all of them manage to strike a balance of tradition and modernity that will by now be familiar to Elling's longstanding admirers, on a program of songs guaranteed to bring new fans to the party.

The party takes place at 1619 Broadway, as The Brill Building Project provides the inspiration for intrepid explorations by one of the great jazz singers of our time.

The 55th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will be held February 10, 2013 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS.

As always, bountiful and heartfelt congratulations, Kurt!

Once again, Kurt Elling has been named Male Vocalist of the Year in both the DownBeat Critics Poll and in its Readers Poll. It's a clean sweep!

The 77th Annual Readers Poll results were just announced and will be featured in the December 2012 issue of DownBeat.

Critics Poll results were announced earlier.

"This is the most comprehensive Readers Poll in our history," said Frank Alkyer, DownBeat publisher. "In an election year, everybody wants to get out the vote, including DownBeat. We had 17,242 jazz fans cast ballots, which is more than double the voters we had last year."

This is the seventh year Kurt has topped the DownBeat Readers Poll, winning in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011, and now 2012.

He's won the top spot in the Critics Poll thirteen years in a row, ever since 2000.

As always, congratulations to all the winners -- and especially to Kurt!

With three months to go until the first Jazz FM Awards Powered by Klipsch, the nominations were announced on October 22, 2012.

The 34 nominations recognise and commend those who have made exceptional contributions to jazz this year. The awards see new talent and legends up for the coveted gongs and the public will have the opportunity to get involved too with a public vote for the UK Jazz Artist of the Year. The public voting will begin on 1st November 2012.

The nominations were chosen by a 13-strong panel of experts which included jazz journalists Clive Davis, Mike Hobart, Rob Adams, Stuart Nicholson and Seb Scotney; the live jazz promoters Steve Rubie (the 606 Club), Paul Pace (Ronnie Scott’s) and Ross Dines (Pizza Express); and international commentators including John Kelman (editor of AllAboutJazz .com), chair of the US Jazz Journalists Association Howard Mandel and Peter Schulze of the German jazz expo Jazzahead.

The winners will be named at the awards ceremony on January 31st at Number One Marylebone and will be selected by an expert panel of judges including: John Cumming, Director of Serious Productions, Tony Dudley-Evans, Artistic Director of Birmingham Jazz and of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Alex Webb, Songwriter, Musician and Journalist.

The Jazz FM Awards Nominees are:

International Jazz Artist
Kurt Elling
Brad Mehldau
Sonny Rollins

Cutting Edge Award for Jazz Innovation
Django Bates
Robert Glasper
Troyka

Album Of The Year
Robert Glasper: Black Radio
Keith Jarrett: Sleeper
Pat Metheny: Unity Band
Gregory Porter: Be Good
John Surman: Saltash Bells
Ryan Truesdell: Centenial (Newly Discovered Works of Gil Evans)

Jazz Media
AllAboutJazz.com (website)
Do The Math (website of Ethan Iverson of The Bad Plus)
Jazzwise (magazine)

Best UK Newcomer
Josh Arcoleo
Roller Trio
Troyka feat. Kit Downes

UK Jazz Artist of the Year
Neil Cowley Trio
Jamie Cullum
Troyka

UK Vocalist of the year
Carleen Anderson
Liane Carroll
Ian Shaw

UK Instrumentalist of the year
Nathaniel Facey (saxophonist with Empirical)
Ivo Neame (pianist with Phronesis)
Phil Robson

Live UK shows of the year
Phronesis
Gregory Porter
PB Underground

Best UK Jazz Venue
Band on the Wall
Café Oto
Ronnie Scott's

Congratulations to all the nominees, and especially to Kurt!

October 16th, 2012

Our good friends at Concord Jazz have put together a very cool Spotify playlist with Kurt's songs from 1619 BROADWAY - THE BRILL BUILDING PROJECT, alongside the early versions that inspired them.

Compare and contrast Kurt's versions with those from The Cookies, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, The Coasters, Carole King, Paul Simon, and more. As one writer said, "Kurt Elling puts the Brill in brilliant" in this repertory tribute to the golden-era songwriting teams from the Brill Building.

To add to your listening pleasure, here are brief stories about the original tunes.

1. On Broadway
"On Broadway," begun by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and completed in collaboration with Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, was originally recorded by The Cookies, and was released as an attempt to broaden the appeal of R&B to new audiences. Phil Spector was an apprentice to Leiber and Stoller at the time the song was written, and he played the guitar solo on The Drifters' recording of the tune. The song was made even more famous by George Benson, whose version of the song received the 1978 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance.

2. Come Fly With Me
Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen wrote "Come Fly With Me" for Frank Sinatra. Van Heusen's lyric was inspired by his WWII days, which he spent moonlighting as a part-time test pilot. Jimmy Van Heusen's work is not immediately identified with the Brill Building. However, Van Heusen was a song plugger for Remmick Music Publishing for many years in The Brill before beginning work there with his early writing partner Eddie de Lange – with whom he wrote "Darn That Dream" and "Deep in a Dream."

3. You Send Me
Sam Cooke recorded "You Send Me" while he was signed to a Gospel label. It reached number 1 on both the Pop Singles and Black Singles charts in 1957, distinguishing it as one of the first great crossover hits.

4. I Only Have Eyes For You
"I Only Have Eyes For You" was written for the 1934 film Dames, starring Joan Blondell, Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. Since its 1934 release, over 40 artists from genres as disparate as folk, jazz, pop, and soul have covered the song, including Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Art Garfunkel, Corinne Bailey Rae, and Rod Stewart. The iconic 1959 recording of the song by The Flamingos helped to define the sound that brought The Brill into its so-called "Golden Era."

5. I'm Satisfied
Released as the B-side on a 1968 Lou Rawls 7" LP, "I'm Satisfied" became famous for being the theme song of the 1986 film, Duffy. This is only the second recording of the tune.

6. A House Is Not A Home
Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "A House Is Not A Home" was first recorded in 1964 by Dionne Warwick as a B-side to the Top 40 single "You'll Never Get To Heaven (If You Break My Heart)." It has been recorded by a remarkable range of artists, including Barbra Streisand, Sonny Rollins, Sponge Bob, Stevie Wonder, the cast of Glee, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Perry Como, and by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx. Perhaps the most memorable version of this classic was recorded by the late, great Luther Vandross.

7. Shoppin' For Clothes
Arguably a precursor to rap, "Shoppin' For Clothes" was originally released in 1956 by Boogaloo and His Gallant Crew. It was made famous by The Coasters' 1960 recording, which peaked at number 83 on the Pop chart. During live performances, The Coasters would wheel out clothing racks and act out parts of the song.

8. So Far Away
Carole King wrote "So Far Away" for her 1971 classic, Tapestry, which, with more than 25 million copies sold worldwide, is one of the most popular albums of all time, retaining the number 1 position on the Billboard 200 for fifteen consecutive weeks. The song peaked at number 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and at number 14 on the Pop Singles chart for the week of October 9, 1971. While this song was composed after the composer had left the Brill, the influence of the time spent there developing as a songwriter made this song possible.

9. Pleasant Valley Sunday
The Monkees recorded this song in 1967, and it charted at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of August 19, 1967. The song's title and lyrics were inspired by Pleasant Valley Way, a street in the New York suburb of West Orange, New Jersey, where Carole King and Gerry Goffin lived at the time they wrote the song. This song was also composed after the composer had left the Brill.

10. American Tune
Paul Simon's haunting melody is based on a line from the Chorale of Bach's St. Matthew Passion. The lyrics offer a perspective on the American experience that deals with struggle, hard work, and a fading American dream.

11. Tutti for Cootie
"Tutti for Cootie" is an up-tempo, swinging blues, written in tribute to Duke Ellington's famed trumpeter, Cootie Williams. The original features both growl and plunger styles of trumpet soloing. Both Duke Ellington himself and Ellington's publisher (and some time co-writer) Irving Mills had offices in the Brill Building for many years.

Concord Jazz is proud to announce the release of 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project, the newest album from the foremost jazz male vocalist, Kurt Elling.

This eleven-track collection features renditions of classic songs that came out of the Brill Building.

1619 Broadway cover.jpg

With this new album, Elling celebrates a legendary legacy outside the jazz world. 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project honors a locale that the London Telegraph called "the most important generator of popular songs in the Western world." Even for the ceaselessly inventive Elling it's a hugely unexpected step, and one guaranteed to further solidify his reputation for bold innovation and superb craftsmanship.

"Having done so many projects about my love for Chicago," he says, "I wanted to make something that spoke of my love for New York."

The two cities define his career. Elling developed his craft in Chicago, and recorded his early albums there, including his 1995 debut, Close Your Eyes, which catapulted him onto the national stage and earned the first of his many Grammy nominations. (All told, every one of Elling's nine albums has been nominated for at least one jazz Grammy – a streak unequalled in Grammy history.)

But in fact, Elling and his family have lived in Manhattan since 2008, and 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project is his response to that experience.

"I didn't want to cover any of the New York songwriters jazz people usually go to: the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, all of whom I love; I wanted to reach out for something different. The vast collection of songs coming out of The Brill Building seemed like a gold mine."

A honeycomb of offices and claustrophobic studios at 1619 Broadway, in the heart of midtown Manhattan, the fabled Brill Building at its peak served as the creative home for more than 160 tenants associated with the pop-music industry. Of these, the vast majority were composers and lyricists. From the mid-1930s through the early 1970s, the architects of the "Brill Building Sound" churned out a preponderance of the popular songs that three generations of America grew up hearing and singing.

The term "Brill Building Sound" describes the string of rock-and-roll masterpieces that defined the genre and signaled its first maturing. These instantly recognizable songs came from such songwriting teams as Leiber and Stoller ("Stand By Me"), Goffin and King ("Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"), Mann and Weil ("You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling"), and Bacharach and David ("Walk On By"). Such teams crafted hit after hit while working in a physical environment with paper-thin walls that allowed the writing teams to hear and learn (or steal) from each other. It became a fertile and competitive hothouse of cross-influence and collaboration.

Even as Elling began researching this material, he "knew this would be a challenge, because the Brill is so much associated with doo-wop" – not his usual neighborhood. For help, he turned to a friend: hit songwriter and educator Phil Galdston ("Save The Best For Last").

"We must have touched on a couple hundred songs before we narrowed it down. Phil did a masterful job of codifying first-tier, second-tier, third-tier choices. Several of my choices, like the classic 'On Broadway'' were foregone conclusions; some, like that hip lick recorded by The Coasters, 'Shoppin' For Clothes,' gradually percolated to my attention." And, indeed, the reworking of that novelty "B-Side" falls right into Elling's penchant for spoken-word fun, games and hipster jive.

Another surprise choice is the Goffin-King exercise in social satire, "Pleasant Valley Sunday." As Elling recounts, "I had summarily dismissed that one until it had time to simmer on its own, and I found an idea on how to handle it." This version mixes John McLean's retro-lectric guitar, authentic-sounding sound clips of the '60s, and an audio profile that recalls Ken Nordine's classic "Word Jazz." The result is a trippy and darker-than-the-original ride through a neighborhood that the Monkees first visited in 1967.

Some jazz fans may raise an eyebrow at these song choices, but they'd do well to remember that throughout the 20th century, artists from Louis Armstrong to Sonny Rollins and Herbie Hancock have successfully transformed one era's pop songs into another generation's jazz standards. And throughout his career, Elling has worked to expand the jazz repertoire, sprinkling his albums with songs made famous by (among others) The Zombies and King Crimson.

Some of the tunes on 1619 Broadway – The Brill Building Project were actually written years after their composers had left the Brill entirely. For example, Elling explains, "Carole King, like many other signatories to the 'Brill Building Sound,' never had an actual office at the Brill. The Brill is both a physical reality and a mental construct; and because of that, I felt comfortable casting a wide net."

That wide net contains more than rock and doo-wop. As Elling's inspired song choices reveal, the Brill was a hive of music activity from the mid-'30s on, housing the creative efforts of Irving Berlin, Sammy Cahn, Johnny Mercer, Harry Warren, and more.

One survey estimates that of the 1200-odd songs performed between 1935 and 1948 on the Your Hit Parade broadcasts (radio and then television), more than 400 of them – nearly a third of the total – came from Brill tenants. Thus the inclusion here of such Great American standards as "I Only Have Eyes For You" (Warren/Dubin,1934) and the Sinatra signature "Come Fly With Me" (Cahn/VanHuesen,1957).

On track after track Kurt Elling and Laurence Hobgood, his collaborator for two decades, illustrate the creative fireworks that have marked their work together from the start.

Some tracks, such as "On Broadway" and "You Send Me," glow with atmospheric reharmonizations (either audacious or subtle), unexpected rhythms, and jazz sensibility. Others, such as "I'm Satisfied" and "A House Is Not A Home," artfully distill the essence of the original through a jazz filter.

But all of them manage to strike a balance of tradition and modernity that will by now be familiar to Elling's longstanding admirers, on a program of songs guaranteed to bring new fans to the party.

The party takes place at 1619 Broadway, as The Brill Building Project provides the inspiration for intrepid explorations by one of the great jazz singers of our time.

KE at Newport 2012.png

On Sunday, August 5, 2012 the Kurt Elling Quintet performed on the Quad Stage at the legendary Newport Jazz Festival.

This was Kurt and Laurence Hobgood's second time at Newport. They first performed there in 2001.

Fans in the audience said, "Kurt killed it!" "People exploded to their feet, clapping and shouting for more." "People were going crazy as they came off the stage!"

NPR Music, in partnership with WGBH (Boston) and WBGO (Newark), presented 16 hours of live video webcasting from the Festival. Many of those performances are now available as audio podcasts in the NPR Newport 2012 archive.

You can listen to Kurt's entire concert (57:25) here.

The set list:

"Come Fly With Me"
"Dedicated To You" (from Kurt's 2009 album, Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings Coltrane and Hartman)
"Samurai Cowboy" (from Kurt's 2011 album, The Gate), beginning with Kurt trading 8s with drummer Kendrick Scott
"On Broadway" (from Kurt's forthcoming album, 1619 Broadway: The Brill Building Project)
"The Waking" (from Kurt's 2007 album, Nightmoves)
"Skylark"
"Golden Lady" (from Kurt's 2011 album, The Gate)

Joining Kurt and his long-time collaborator, pianist Laurence Hobgood, the Kurt Elling Quintet now includes Clark Sommers on bass, Kendrick Scott on drums, and John McLean on guitar.

They performed the night before in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania and had to get up at 4:00 am to be on stage in at 12:20 pm in Newport, several states away. Kurt was in excellent voice, they all sounded terrific, and everyone had a fantastic time, on stage and off.

Great playing, gentlemen!

On July 19, 2012, The Scottish Jazz Federation and Jazz International presented the third annual Scottish Jazz Awards in a glittering ceremony at The Queen's Hall, Edinburgh. These awards acknowledge and recognize excellence across all styles of jazz in Scotland. Jazz singer and entertainer Ian Shaw hosted the ceremony.

This is the first year they've included an International category, and Kurt is the winner! The other nominees were Randy Brecker and Peter Erskine.

Kurt's award was presented by saxophonist Tommy Smith, director of the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. Because Kurt is currently on tour, he videotaped his acceptance speech which was very well received during the ceremony. Tommy Smith will present the award trophy in person next week when Kurt performs at the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival.

Kurt commented, "I am humbled to be remembered by my Scottish fans. I made some lifelong friends in Scotland while catching great jazz artists in Edinburgh back in the late '80s, when I was doing a year abroad. The Scots culture has a special resonance in my heart. To be returning as a jazz singer myself and to be taken up by Scottish Jazz fans is a wonderful thrill for me. "

Said singer Todd Gordon, Jazz International's founder, "Importantly, these Awards highlight the riches Scotland has across the many jazz genres. Our congratulations go to all nominees, finalists and, of course, our winners for demonstrating the extraordinary musical talent that is thriving in Scotland."

The full list of winners is here.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners, and especially to Kurt!

Once again, the critics have chosen Kurt Elling as the top male vocalist in the 60th annual DownBeat Critics Poll!

Kurt has been named the DownBeat Critics Poll Male Vocalist of the Year for thirteen consecutive years, from 2000 through 2012, and was also awarded Talent Deserving Wider Recognition the preceding four years, from 1997 to 2000.

Frank Alkyer, DownBeat's publisher, remarked,

"This is one of our most exciting polls in years – not just because of its historic nature, but also because of some incredible, record-breaking artistic recognition.

"For our 2012 poll, 186 critics from around the globe voted, making this the largest voting turnout in the poll's illustrious history. The DownBeat Critics Poll is the most comprehensive poll in the jazz world. Its results show more than 1,000 artists or acts receiving votes in 62 categories, shining a spotlight on every style and every instrument in jazz."

Congratulations to all of the 2012 winners, and especially to Kurt!

Coming up soon: Voting in the DownBeat Readers Poll. Stay tuned for how and where you can vote . . .

Once again the Jazz Journalists Association has named Kurt Elling its Male Singer of the Year! The sixteenth annual Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards ceremony was held June 20, 2012 at the Blue Note in New York.

This is Kurt's eighth JJA Jazz Award. He previously won in 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Other nominees for 2012 Male Singer of the Year were Freddy Cole, Giacomo Gates, and Gregory Porter.

The 2012 JJA Jazz Awards ceremony was hosted by WBGO's Josh Jackson, who was also honored with this year's Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting, and Angelika Beener of Alternate Takes.

Again this year, the JJA Jazz Awards were live tweeted on the Internet, and satellite parties were held in thirteen cities, all celebrating those who make and document jazz at the highest levels of excellence.

The complete list of winners is here.

Voting for the Jazz Awards for achievements starts with the JJA's professional members being asked to submit up to three nominees in each category. Nominees accumulating the most votes are finalists; ties in some categories result in fewer or more than five nominated finalists. Finalists are voted upon by JJA professional members in a second round to determine Awards winners, who are invited to receive their personalized statuettes onstage.

The JJA presents all its Awards as an assertion that informed, professional, independent coverage of jazz across genre is vital to the preservation and promotion of contemporary music, for new and established audiences alike.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees, and especially to Kurt!


2012 Silesian Jazz Ambassador.jpg


This was the seventh year of the Silesian Jazz Festival, produced by the Institute of Jazz, Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music, and held in the Krystyna Bochenek Katowice Cultural Centre, Katowice, Poland. The purpose of the Festival is music education, with concerts and workshops by eminent jazz musicians. The Kurt Elling Quintet performed at the 7th Silesian Jazz Festival on May 20, 2012. He also presented a master class.

The award committee, composed of representatives of the artistic community, honored Kurt Elling as the Silesian Jazz Festival's 2012 Ambassador of Jazz

for creative exploration and setting new standards in the world music scene. His moving jazz interpretations enriched by his poetic lyrics, captivate the hearts of music lovers around the world.

The Jazz Ambassador statuette will be awarded in subsequent years of the Silesian Jazz Festival.

Many congratulations, Kurt!

April 22nd, 2012

The year was 1962.

In April, Frank Sinatra embarked on a two-month World Tour for Children, performing in 30 shows in 12 countries, with the Bill Miller Sextet. His June 7, 1962 concert in Paris was recorded but not released until 1994 as Sinatra & Sextet: Live in Paris. Some consider it one of the best recordings of his career.

The tour was exhausting but personally satisfying, and when Sinatra returned home in late June, he'd raised more than a million dollars for children's charities worldwide. He was the tour's sole sponsor, underwriting the expenses himself, for all the musicians and technical crew.

Fifty years later, Kurt Elling Swings Sinatra celebrates this album of Sinatra in peak form, as only Kurt can do, with richly told stories of a fascinating moment in time.

Kurt is joined by his own sextet, featuring special guests Joel Frahm on tenor sax and Brandon Lee on trumpet, with Clark Sommers, bass, Lewis Nash, drums, and his long-time musical director and collaborator, Laurence Hobgood on piano.

Kurt Elling Swings Sinatra comes to the East Coast at the end of April, with performances in New York, Vineland, NJ, and Philadelphia, and in mid-May in Pittsburgh.

Kurt Elling has been awarded the ECHO Jazz Prize 2012 as International Male Singer of the Year for his 2011 album, The Gate!

The ECHO Jazz Prize is the German equivalent of the Grammy.

The ECHO Jazz Prizes are awarded in 30 categories for albums released between November 2, 2010 and October 31, 2011 which also received at least two outstanding reviews from music journalists. Winners were selected by twelve jurors from the music industry from a field of 230 nominations.

The ECHO is an established and well-known music award presented by the German Phono Academy, the cultural arm of the Music Industry Association, honoring outstanding achievements and successful national and international artists. The ECHO Klassik Prize was first awarded in 1994, and the Jazz Prize was added in 2010.

The date and the location of the award ceremony will be announced in May.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Kurt Elling has been nominated as Male Singer of the Year by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA)! The other nominees in this category are Freddy Cole, Giacomo Gates, and Gregory Porter.

Kurt has won the JJA Jazz Award seven times in the past, including every year since 2009.

The winners of the 2012 Jazz Journalists Association Jazz Awards will be selected from the nearly 200 nominees through voting by the JJA's international membership of writers, photographers, broadcasters and new media producers professionally involved with jazz.

The 16th annual JJA Jazz Awards Ceremony will be held June 20, 2012 from 4:00-6:00 pm at the Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 West 3rd St., New York, NY.

There will also be Satellite Parties in other cities. As of mid-April, parties are planned for Boston; Atlanta; Tucson; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Saratoga Springs, New York; Tallahassee and Gainesville, Florida; Ottawa, Canada and Auckland, New Zealand.

The full list of nominees is here.

Nominees in the first 38 categories were chosen by the votes of the Professional Journalist Members of the Jazz Journalists Association. Nominations were made on the basis of work done in calendar year 2011, with the exception of Lifetime Achievement Awards categories, in which nominations are for a lifetime body of work. Members and others were able to submit their own work for nomination in the Best Liner Notes and Photo of the Year categories. Best Shortform Online Video of the Year nominees were selected by a committee of JJA videographers.

Congratulations to each and every one of them!

From March 19-24, 2012 eight very talented young arrangers, chosen from about 200 applicants, participated in the 2012 Metropole Orkest's International Arrangers Workshop. Vince Mendoza, conductor of the Metropole Orkest, declared, "Of the 15 years that we've been doing this, this is the finest group of students that I've seen here -- or anywhere for that matter."

Introducing the eight arrangers:

Rasmus Puur (Estonia)
Malte Schiller (Germany)
Laura Winkler (Austria)
Vidjay Beerepoot (The Netherlands)
Christian Elsässer (Germany)
Daniel Jamieson (Canada)
Erica Seguine (USA)
Jesse Passenier (The Netherlands)

Each wrote an arrangement for Kurt Elling to perform at the Grand Finale Concert in Rotterdam on March 24.

Kurt said later, "I was deeply impressed by ALL of the arrangements. They uniformly reflected deep musical intelligence and communicated transparent emotion. I thank all the fine young arrangers for their dedication to craftsmanship and hard work. I look forward to performing these with the orchestra once again at the The Meer Jazz Festival in Hoofddorp, NL on June 2 . . . and well into the future."

Selections from the concert were broadcast over two weekends on Co Live!, the Soul & Jazz radio program hosted by Co de Kloet on Radio 6 in The Netherlands. Those are are now available as podcasts for your listening pleasure. The full broadcasts are four hours each. The segments with Kurt and the Metropole Orkest are listed below.

Part 1: Sunday, March 25, 2012
From 2:22:50-2:25:00 Kurt describes the tunes and their selection.

From 2:27:25 to 2:58:35 Vince Mendoza introduces Kurt and they play:
Butterfly (Herbie Hancock) - Rasmus Puur, arranger
Speak No Evil (Wayne Shorter / lyric by Kurt Elling) - Malte Schiller, arranger
Duke Ellington's Sounds of Love (Charles Mingus) - Laura Winkler, arranger
Tempted (Squeeze) - Vidjay Beerepoot, arranger

Part 2: Sunday, April 1, 2012
Beginning at 2:02:50, the Metropole Orkest plays:
A Streetcar Named Desire (Alex North)

From 2:13:10 to 2:38:00 they perform:
An American Tune (Paul Simon) - Christian Elsässer, arranger
Late Night Willie (Keith Jarrett / lyric by Kurt Elling) - Daniel Jamieson, arranger
Time To Say Goodbye (Joe Zawinul / lyric by Kurt Elling) - Erica Seguine, arranger

From 2:40:30 to 2:47:25 they perform:
Tutti For Cootie (Duke Ellington / lyric by Kurt Elling) - Jesse Passenier, arranger

From 2:47:55 to 2:55:50 there is an interview and they conclude with:
Esperanto (Vince Mendoza / lyric by Kurt Elling) - Vince Mendoza, arranger

And if you'd like to read Kurt's new lyrics for Speak No Evil and Late Night Willie, they're in Kurt's book, LYRICS, Second Edition, now available in the Kurt Store. Time to Say Goodbye and Esperanto are included, too.

Again this year, Kurt was nominated for a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Album -- this time for The Gate. Every one of Kurt's recordings has been nominated, and he won two years ago for Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman.

Alas, he didn't win this year, but he did cut a fine figure on the Red Carpet.

Watch Kurt's short Grammy Red Carpet interview here.

Kurt commented later:

I had a great time! I've been fortunate because I've been able to go several times, and I was a volunteer before, and I've got so many friends to see that I don't otherwise get to connect with.

And the Grammys have updated the pre-telecast so remarkably since I was first involved that you really have a sense of an occasion as opposed to feeling like second or third class citizens, as it used to. They do the full red carpet treatment and you feel like it's a real occasion. So it's worth doing.

Just before the Grammy awards, Kurt was the celebrity guest on National Public Radio's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! - The Oddly Informative News Quiz show. He played "Not My Job," a three-question multiple-choice quiz. Laugh-out-loud hilarity ensues!

Listen to Kurt's cover of Ke$ha's "We R Who We R," his answer to say "something in jazz," and his scat-talking (which sounds suspiciously like Danish).

The game he's invited to play is "Dude, First Thing You Need to Do, Get a Drum Machine." His quiz questions are on other Grammy nominees -- Bruno Mars, Adele, and Bon Iver.

So did he win the prize for the listener in Boca Raton, Florida? Listen to Kurt's 10:05 "Not My Job" segment to find out! You can also read the transcript, but the spoken word is much funnier.

From January 29 to February 5, 2012, Kurt Elling joined with a stellar cast of 44 artists/groups playing all jazz all the time on The Jazz Cruise.

They sailed from Fort Lauderdale, FL, with stops in Aruba, Curaçao, and Half Moon Cay, and back to Florida. It was Kurt's first Jazz Cruise, and he and the Quintet had a fabulous time.

Kurt performed half a dozen shows during the Cruise.

Lee Mergner, Editor-in-Chief of JazzTimes, shared his impressions of the Jazz Cruise and Kurt's performances:

Ask any cruise-goer for their musical highlight and you're likely to hear widely divergent choices. Jazz is, after all, a short word for a lot of different music and styles. For this somewhat jaded listener, the favorites tended to be artists or performances I had never seen before, and there were a surprisingly large number of those. I guess I need to get out more, or at least widen my choices.

Kurt Elling was an artist whom I have seen many times over the years, but seeing him perform a half-dozen very different sets (he tried to not repeat any songs all week) with his working band of Laurence Hobgood, Clark Sommers, Kobie Watkins and John McLean gave me even more regard for his considerable singing and performing talents, and more appreciation for his excellent band.

Elling did songs from every era of his now 17-year career and didn't hesitate to mix up the arrangements and repertoire, letting the air or tempo out of some tunes and speeding others up to a breakneck pace. His command of the stage and spontaneous repartee with the not-the-least-bit-shy audience showed the value of all of those years. He even riffed his way through a few onstage soundchecks. A truly modernist jazz singer, described by JT's Nate Chinen as 'the most influential jazz vocalist of our time,' Elling won over the traditionalists in the crowd.


JazzTimes also videotaped a series of interviews with artists on the Jazz Cruise.

Kurt's interviews are in Kurt Elling: Straight Ahead, by Lee Mergner, who wrote: "Earlier this year, Elling made his first appearance on The Jazz Cruise, where he performed multiple sets with his working group of Laurence Hobgood, John McLean, Clark Sommers and Kobie Watkins, rarely even repeating a song. A hit among the cruise regulars, he also sat in with Ann Hampton-Callaway and other artists and sang with the All-Star big band."

Watch: Kurt Elling on The Jazz Cruise (03:00)

Watch: Kurt Elling on his early musical development as a jazz singer (04:25)

Watch: Kurt Elling on his future projects (03:27)

In his own set of interview segments for In Person with JazzTimes, Laurence Hobgood spoke about his early development as a pianist, his teachers and mentors, his reliance on a spirit of collaboration, his work with Kurt Elling and Robert Pinsky, and his impressions of the Jazz Cruise.