Kurt's Press Archive - 2008
Kurt Elling performed one extended set a the intimate Diesel Playhouse, a sold out show, standing room only. Thankfully the organizers of the show did their best to find chairs for everyone. Audience members also shared tables and chairs so that the concert became a warm, friendly and comfortable  ...read more…
During one of the evening's many spoken interludes, Kurt Elling, lyrics in hand, speaks in awe of an album recorded in one take - without rehearsal. An album, a precious gem in the repertoire of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman, that Elling is interpreting in concert form along with co-producer,  ...read more…
November 22nd, 2008
Four bands at the London jazz festival this week celebrated long-past works by John Coltrane, singer Johnny Hartman, Sidney Bechet and Eric Dolphy - the latter's edgy lyricism explored in fine detail by a trimmed-down, sax-and-vibes version of the much-feted newcomers Empirical. On Tuesday, Chicago singer Kurt Elling revisited the  ...read more…
Many jazz classics feature vocals, but the London Jazz festival programme reveals a form dominated by instrumentalists Do singers - or lyrics for that matter - mean much to jazzers? And should they? As a quick scan of the current London Jazz festival's packed programme reveals, jazz remains a predominantly  ...read more…
November 20th, 2008
Everything Kurt Elling does has style. Back by public demand, this dapper Chicago supercrooner unveiled a suite based on the recordings of John Coltrane and singer Johnny Hartman. Recalling that one was a superstar and the other almost unknown, Elling added: "But we remember them both, because we're jazz  ...read more…
Kurt Elling's Dedicated to You appearance last night at the Eastman Theatre, in a benefit for the Commencement Park, was as Jeff Spevak put it "jazz as good as it gets." The seven hundred souls who came to hear this Grammy-nominated singer were treated to a wonderful hour-and-a-half or so  ...read more…
You look at Kurt Elling leaning coolly and casually against the piano, every inch the hip jazzman in his sharp suit and jet-black, swept-back hair, revealing the high forehead of a superior intellect. You hear him scat singing or his voice imaginatively soaring from baritone to falsetto, telling stories, re-imagining  ...read more…
The Sunday night finale show at the Monterey Jazz Festival was the most consistent for sustained pleasure. Vocalist Kurt Elling, a past MJF artist-in-residence, was the perfect voice for the opening "Dedicated To You" salute to quintessential balladeer Johnny Hartman. Master tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts expertly handled the melodic mood  ...read more…
At 7 p.m. sharp we're in the Arena for Kurt Elling's "Dedicated to You,” a program of John Coltrane/Johnny Hartman songs and more. Although this is the show he's bringing to the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis in February as part of the 2008-09 Northrop Jazz Season, we  ...read more…
More than just supplying a new interpretation of a 45-year-old jazz classic, Kurt Elling has taken John Coltrane's 1963 songbook and applied to his voice the sort of inventiveness that the legendary saxophonist brought to his instrument at the time. Coltrane was in a mellow mood that year, and over the  ...read more…
It's always a treat when an artist sends you back into the library to pull out old vinyl or CDs that you have not thought about for awhile. Kurt Elling, the jazz singer, and the saxophonist Ernie Watts are touring with a tribute to "John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman," the  ...read more…
One evening in the early '60s, the bassist Charlie Haden was playing at the Village Vanguard as a member of the Ornette Coleman Quartet. He was in the middle of a particularly intense solo, and he decided to close his eyes. When he opened them at the end of  ...read more…
Elegance without ostentation: that would describe the overview of Leonard Bernstein songs that the pianist Bill Charlap and the singer Kurt Elling brought to Bernstein's theater music at the opening program of the 92nd Street Y's Jazz in July series on Tuesday evening. Bernstein, especially in his score for "West  ...read more…
In a spirited salute to the man he aptly described as an "awesome musical force," West Orange piano dynamo Bill Charlap headed up "Somewhere: The Songs of Leonard Bernstein" on Tuesday at the 92nd Street Y's Kaufmann Concert Hall. Leading off the Y's annual Jazz in July series, which continues  ...read more…
The tenth annual Healdsburg Jazz Festival was my third. And it won't be my last. Amidst the wineries, bike trails, rolling hills and galleries of Sonoma County, Jessica Felix and company have been putting on one of the nation's finest, if one of the least hyped, jazz festivals. For the  ...read more…
Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, May 23, 2008 -- Pianist Laurence Hobgood was born in Salisbury, N.C., where his father headed the theater department at Catawba College. The family relocated several times during Hobgood's childhood, following his father's professional career. They ultimately landed in Dallas, Tex., where his father secured a job  ...read more…
When jazz vocalist Kurt Elling was booked for the Gilmore International Keyboard Festival, some people wondered why. Part of the reason relates to the skills of Elling's pianist, Laurence Hobgood. It was refreshing to see Hobgood spotlighted when Elling's group performed Sunday for the first of two shows at Western  ...read more…
As the crowd settled into the soft shufflings that the Sydney Symphony Orchestra has come to expect, Conductor Ben Northey strode onto stage, keen to get things running. The first piece was unannounced but the program notes indicated it as Astor Piazolla's Tangazo. Those familiar with the piece will know  ...read more…
Why was this such an incredible live music experience? What makes this man seem prophetic and his music seem magic? Kurt Elling is one of a rare breed of musicians whose complete mastery of their instrument has dissolved all technical barriers to expression. With these concerns removed from the equation,  ...read more…
Last night's concert, presented under the auspices of the Sydney Symphony's Kaleidoscope 2008 season was a lesson in breathtaking virtuosity: from Elling himself, who has a prize, precision instrument; the Lawrence Hobgood Quartet (at it's nucleus, the trio of LH, piano, Robert Amster, acoustic bass and Kobie Watkins, drums), featuring saxophonist,  ...read more…
February 20th, 2008
At first blush the stage at the Allen Room on Friday night appeared to be set for seduction. Soft lighting? (Check.) Simmering groove? (Check.) Slow drift of headlights in the background, along Central Park South? (O.K., sure.) And finally Kurt Elling in a double-breasted suit, microphone in hand. "Love  ...read more…