Kurt's Press Archive - 2010
First, I'll convey what some of Ottawa's jazz singers thought of Kurt Elling's concert on Monday night at the Library and Archives Canada auditorium. I managed to canvass six of them after the show for their thoughts: Anna Williams: "I may think of something I didn't like in the morning,  ...read more…
Kurt Elling, a 43-year-old Chicago-raised New Yorker, speaks with Canadian jazz pianist and blogger Peter Hum not only about his next CD, The Gate, (to be released by Concord Jazz in early February), but also about his growth as an artist and the spiritual component of his art. Excerpts: PH:  ...read more…
December 3rd, 2010
Kurt Elling discusses what he does with a sense of deep affection and devotion. "Man, I just feel so fortunate to be a jazz musician at all," said the singer, composer and lyricist. "I have a hard time thinking of it any other way. It's such a fulfilling vocation. I  ...read more…
Kurt Elling, the owner of a remarkable four-octave voice and astounding improvisational chops, is regarded by his peers as the ultimate jazz vocalist. This week he shares his talents in two Kennedy Center shows Saturday evening and a master class Sunday morning. His band includes his longtime pianist and music  ...read more…
Summoning such great jazz spirits as Joe Williams, Frank Sinatra and John Coltrane, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling hit Miller Auditorium Thursday night like a fireball. Elling has performed in Kalamazoo several times before, but never with a big band. This time, he fronted the Western Michigan University Jazz Orchestra. The  ...read more…
Although the touchstone for Kurt Elling's one-off Sydney concert was the landmark album John Coltrane and vocalist Johnny Hartman made in one afternoon in March 1963, the Chicago-born singer made sure it was much more than a warm and fuzzy sentimental tribute. Each song from the Impulse classic that Elling tackled  ...read more…
...Kurt Elling, probably jazz's most exciting and engaging current singer, unleashed the best band he has brought here. It retained the brilliant pianist Laurence Hobgood, teamed with the tenor saxophonist Bob Sheppard, bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Ulysses Owens. Elling's concerts have become more slick without losing risk and adventure.  ...read more…
The death two months ago of the majestic Abbey Lincoln was one of the last nails in the coffin of the generation of great jazz singers that included Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Their legacy, however, is still alive and well. Kurt Elling is seeing to that. A  ...read more…
Kurt Elling is a hard taskmaster — hard on himself and on his audiences. The Grammy award-winning vocalist has made a rigorous study of the great jazz singers and strives for total engagement with music through improvisation and spontaneity. He has mastered scatting, singing and writing vocalese lyrics for jazz standards  ...read more…
Les amateurs de jazz vocal s'étaient donné rendez-vous au Palais Montcalm, hier, où se produisait le chanteur de l'heure en la matière: Kurt Elling. L'Américain, qui a raflé un prix Grammy plus tôt cette année, a démontré que sa réputation est loin  ...read more…
Kurt Elling and Laurence Hobgood have been a team for sixteen years. In that time, Elling has given us some of the best vocal jazz in a generation, all of it backed by Hobgood's brilliant musical direction and sterling piano work. Elling and Hobgood were a team again last weekend  ...read more…
September 10th, 2010
Last night Kurt Elling returned to the Tanglewood Jazz Festival delivering a stunning set demonstrating why at 42 he is considered the greatest pure jazz singer of his generation. He won a Grammy for his 2009 CD Dedicated to You. It is inadequate to say that Elling is a singer. His voice,  ...read more…
Jazz pianist Laurence Hobgood travels under the radar. He's known as the marvelous collaborator with singer Kurt Elling, a pairing that continues to make a deep imprint with Elling's sophisticated, hip inventions over Hobgood's luscious and inventive piano. The pair met in Chicago around 1993 and made their first record in 1995.  ...read more…
In his on-stage banter, the Chicago singer Kurt Elling can sound as if he's swallowed an instruction manual on the kind of cheery badinage the Fast Show's jazz critic would have relished. But the affectations only accentuate the impact of his dazzling hipness when he sings. Elling manages the remarkable  ...read more…
A dazzling smorgasbord of scat, vocalese, poetry and stream of consciousness, Kurt Elling's first ever residency at Ronnie Scott's achieved immediate lift-off last night. Singer Elling's quintet – long-time musical collaborator Laurence Hobgood (piano), Harish Raghavan (bass), John McLean (guitar) and Troy Miller (drums) – artfully mixed tempo, texture and temperature across  ...read more…
The jazz community in Chicago has always gravitated toward the Cubs, for one main reason: if your lifestyle demands that you work at night, you need a team that plays in the daytime. But this Friday, the jazz crowd has an extra incentive to attend the first game of the  ...read more…
Jazz singer Kurt Elling doesn't have to prep too much for Sunday night's performance at Davies Symphony Hall, where he joins the Count Basie Orchestra. They're revisiting the classic music Frank Sinatra made in the 1960s with the peerlessly swinging Basie band, much of it arranged by Quincy Jones. "That  ...read more…
When I last saw the Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars, they were opening the 52nd MJF before a raucous Friday night crowd, the hour allotted to them not nearly enough to hold all their collective talents. Seven months later, in the more restrained environment of UCLA's Royce Hall, I caught up  ...read more…
April 22nd, 2010
"Jazz musicians are improvisers, meaning that each jazz musician is thinking like a composer—only in real time, in collaboration with other musicians, in front of an audience,” says 2010 Grammy winner Kurt Elling '89. The goal each night is to try to create beauty through combinations of notes one has  ...read more…
At their best, jazz festivals gather a roster of international talent for a weekend of musicmaking, creating a crucible for collaborations between musicians who don't normally play together. In this spirit, the Ferst Center for the Arts at Georgia Tech hosted mainstays from California's Monterey Jazz Festival Saturday night. As  ...read more…
Within the very first minute of Tuesday night's show in the Carpenter Theater at CenterStage, Kurt Elling was scatting and, like a flash, they were off. Wasting no time, like an exposition that just had to be told, the band's featured members were introduced via short blasts of solo statements.  ...read more…
Monterey Jazz Festival is the west coast younger sister of the Newport Jazz Festival. Both were founded a few years apart from one another in the 1950s. Great music has taken place at both festivals over the years. Monterey's festival, however, has prospered (Eric Burdon's "Down in Monterey" immortalized it),  ...read more…
Grammy-nominated Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling and his quartet had just mesmerized a swollen crowd of 767 at the College of DuPage's McAninch Art Center. In the lobby now, with his four year-old daughter coloring at a table merchandising his CDs, he signs autographs and visits with several hundred admirers. The youngest  ...read more…
Celebrity jazz concerts are often dreary affairs—museums of dusty music where real jazz goes to die. Think of beige nights at Lincoln Center, the players wearing stiff suits, anxious to showcase their cool virtuosity while neglecting to tell a story with their music. By comparison, Thursday's performance of the  ...read more…
February 14th, 2010
Is it possible for jazz to be too tasteful, too classy, too . . . perfect? If it is, then it was. A group calling itself Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour played politely for more than two hours to a near-capacity audience Thursday night at Berklee Performance Center in a show presented by  ...read more…
If followers of music lore were expecting the hot-blooded spirit of jazz festival legends such as Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie to wash over the Berklee Performance Center stage during Thursday's Monterey Jazz Festival on Tour all-star concert, they had set their sights too high. While the heavyweights gathered are  ...read more…
California's 53rd annual Monterey Jazz Festival won't take place until mid-September, but apparently it's never too early to advertise that fact. The Monterey Jazz Festival All-Stars did just that Monday night at Mechanics Hall, for a crowd of close to 1,000 chilly jazz fans. The All-Stars —vocalist Kurt Elling, violinist Regina  ...read more…
Blues guitarist John Hammond once said the blues was largely about borrowing and lending. Kurt Elling feels the same way about jazz. "You definitely want the sound of the history of your instrument to be present in what you play,” Elling says. "That's how we transmit to the future the  ...read more…
Kurt Elling is one of today's leading jazz vocalists, and this Sunday, he's co-hosting the Grammy Awards. Ok, it's the Grammy Pre-Telecast Ceremony, but the event, which presents many of the awards that aren't seen in the main ceremony, is filled with musical eminences in its own right: Elling himself  ...read more…
Christine Ebersole, described as "the Meryl Streep of cabaret,” was named outstanding cabaret vocalist in a major engagement at the New York Nightlife Awards on Monday evening at Town Hall. Accompanied on piano by John Oddo, the winsome, curly-headed Broadway star, who opens a new show at the Café Carlyle  ...read more…