Kurt's Press Archive - 2011
Beat poetry accompanied by jazz has a much-maligned reputation. It seems terribly self-indulgent for someone to go up on a stage and say whatever and then some musicians play whatever and somehow insist that it's profoundly meaningful and if you don't get it, it's your own fault. There is a  ...read more…
How many ways can you sing a song? Why do some pieces work only with certain vocalists? Why is it so rare to have the right fit between a singer and a song? Is it simply a matter of arrangement, or does the style and sensibility of a particular vocalist  ...read more…
Kurt Elling thrilled the audience at this Pennsylvania college with his seemingly inexhaustible, four-octave baritone voice and dramatic songs that swept from one emotional high to another. The show began with Elling and his rhythm section—Laurence Hobgood on piano, Clark Sommers on bass, Ulysses Owens Jr. on drums and  ...read more…
The confluence of poetry or spoken word with improvisational music goes as far back as the Harlem renaissance, became synonymous with the Beats, figured heavily in proto-rap music (Gil Scott-Heron and The Last Poets) and continues to flourish. Along the years, there have been many recordings of poets reading their  ...read more…
December 2nd, 2011
Vocalist Kurt Elling was in St. Louis recently to perform at Jazz at the Bistro. Arguably, he is one of the top jazz singers in the world today. He was born in Chicago and raised in Rockford, Ill., where his father was the Choir Director of a Lutheran Church. Elling  ...read more…
Kurt Elling's creative and commercial impact in jazz over the past 15 years makes the following hard to fathom: thousands of fans throughout the world might have been deprived of one of the most celebrated voices of this generation had this Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and scat master gone ahead and earned  ...read more…
Jazz singers were out of vogue for a while, perhaps because the focus on trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the young lions who emerged in his wake put the emphasis on instrumentals. But in recent years, vocals have regained their place in the music. Any discussion of putting an improvisational spin  ...read more…
In the 1950s, American poet Kenneth Patchen was a pioneer of poetry with a live jazz accompaniment, performing with Charles Mingus and others. While some falsely aligned him with the Beats, Patchen remained an elusive and idiosyncratic artist up to his death in 1972, producing an eclectic body of work that  ...read more…
November 7th, 2011
Sometimes it's hard to know what to say to someone who helped you survive a serious illness. Especially if that person is a well-known stranger. In 2008, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. At the time I was immersed in Nightmoves, a brilliant 2007 record by the Grammy-winning jazz singer Kurt Elling. Nightmoves  ...read more…
John Hollenbeck continues to astound as a composer, prone to value accessibility as much he does adventure, on the fascinating What Is The Beautiful? As on the previous Claudia Quintet disc, Royal Toast, Hollenbeck extends the lineup with a "+1." But it's sort of misleading; it should read "+3," because in addition  ...read more…
On this early September afternoon, John Hollenbeck is only a day away from visiting one of his favorite getaways, the Blue Mountain Center. Located in the Adirondacks in upstate New York, the lodge offers established musicians, writers and visual artists the perfect bucolic setting for a working retreat. This will  ...read more…
With the schedule Kurt Elling keeps and the energy he expends on stage, you have to wonder how he does it. He takes your breath away. It's almost scary the way he leaves it all out there. As you watch him, you're happy you're at the 8:30 p.m. show because  ...read more…
To the untrained ear, scat singing can sound like gibberish. How could the spouting of so many notes at a time — sung in syllables that sound more like baby babble than musical language — possibly be meaningful? Talk to jazz vocalist Kurt Elling for a few minutes and he just might  ...read more…
Nearly two years ago, Nate Chinen wrote in his column "The Gig” that Kurt Elling was "the most influential jazz vocalist of our time,” a statement so absolute that it triggered an all-out war in the comments section. One non-fan opined that Elling was nothing less than "a narcissistic, hepcat  ...read more…
It's been a pretty good year for Kurt Elling fans in Chicago. With this weekend's appearance, and counting earlier visits to the Green Mill, the Old Town School of Folk Music, and Symphony Center (for the "United Sounds of America" series in June), he'll have spent more time haunting his  ...read more…
Music and spoken-word collaborations can be problematic, especially in the world of jazz. Though the passionate creation in both disciplines can be complementary, sometimes the results clash, leaving listeners either wishing that guy in the beret would hush for a minute or those musicians would take a break so we  ...read more…
The temperaments of the poems of Kenneth Patchen (1911-72) have a wide frequency: they are brave, mystical, honest, funny, smart, tender-hearted, indignant, earnest, absurd, resistant, interior, out of step. The drummer, composer and bandleader John Hollenbeck's music has some of those traits too, and in What Is the Beautiful?,  ...read more…
What use has the Claudia Quintet — whose textured, complex jazz relies on dense instrumental interplay — for a crooner like Kurt Elling? A lot, it turns out. This is evidenced on What Is the Beautiful?, the New York ensemble's lovely but unsettling new album for Silver Spring's  ...read more…
Jazz and poetry have a longstanding relationship that precedes the postwar experiments of the Beats, dating back to the Harlem Renaissance. As with any artistic collaboration, the cooperative efforts of improvising musicians and poets have yielded mixed results over the years. One of the first artists to successfully explore this  ...read more…
He was nominated for nine Grammys, won one, was featured on the cover of a handful of jazz magazines, and was recognized as Jazz Journalists Association's male singer of the year seven times. For the Music Department's biggest concert of the year, Jazz vocalist Kurt Elling will perform as the  ...read more…
There were rambling moments and unnecessary stage turns during Monday's gala celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. But every minute of the 31 / 2-hour program was worth it just to hear the evening's honored guest, Aretha Franklin, sing jazz. Early  ...read more…
August 30th, 2011
It's well known that many of the great black jazz vocalists—Ernestine Anderson, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Al Jarreau—got their start singing in church. Which makes perfect sense: Thanks to its rich gospel tradition, the institution has always been as much a musical incubator as a center of  ...read more…
Going into Wednesday's show at the Hollywood Bowl exploring the meeting point between jazz and Joni Mitchell's recordings between 1974 and 1979, it was hard to escape the idea that both sides of the evening could be considered acquired tastes, at least as far as today's mainstream is concerned. Although the genius  ...read more…
Jazz has always attached itself to the popular musical idioms of the day, from Tin Pan Alley to the Beatles and even (gasp) hip hop. But Wednesday night's concert at the Hollywood Bowl highlighted a reverse aspect, Joni Mitchell's mid-seventies adaptation of jazz into her own style of songwriting and  ...read more…
'She's got a special way,' Herbie Hancock says of the singer-songwriter. He's on the 'Joni's Jazz' bill with Wayne Shorter, Kurt Elling and many others. An eclectic group will assemble onstage Wednesday night at the Hollywood Bowl to riff on the work of Joni Mitchell. Oddly, one thing many  ...read more…
Jazz musicians are music fans too—a seemingly simple statement, but one many of us, particularly genre purists, often forget or ignore. Singer Kurt Elling and his frequent collaborator, musical director Laurence Hobgood, are refreshing for their open acknowledgement of their fan boy natures and love of pop music, which  ...read more…
July 13th, 2011
It's amazing how small age differences can impact on the music that resonates in our youth—experiencing it after the fact being so different than living in its time. For 43 year-old vocalist Kurt Elling, the music that reached his young, impressionable ears came from sources as diverse as Earth, Wind &  ...read more…
Since emerging in the mid-1990s, Chicagoan Kurt Elling has grown into one of his generation's finest jazz singers. An astute interpreter of standards, as well as a clever lyric adapter of instrumental music by everyone from Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays to Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul and Keith Jarrett,  ...read more…
On Monday evening, fans had a few hard choices to make among the headliners. At Koerner Hall, award-winning Dee Dee Bridgewater paid tribute to Lady Day. Meanwhile at the Enwave Theatre, Kurt Elling took to the stage before an equally enthusiastic audience. The sold-out crowd knew who they were going  ...read more…
One of the challenges in putting together a festival program is matching artists and venues, and Monday's show by singer Kurt Elling at the Enwave Theatre was an absolutely perfect pairing. Not only was the hall the right size, big enough for Elling's fans to pack the place, but it  ...read more…
The Enwave Theatre was filled to the rafters Monday night for a powerhouse performance by American vocalist Kurt Elling and his quartet. Elling burst onto the international jazz scene in 1995 with his debut release on Blue Note Records, Close Your Eyes. Since then, it's been full steam ahead for this  ...read more…
Kurt Elling gave a blockbuster of a performance on Sunday night, thrilling listeners in the packed National Arts Centre Studio with his seemingly inexhaustible, room-filling voice and dramatic songs that swept from one emotional extreme to the other. Whether rendering bold, hard-swinging numbers or ballads about sublime love or heartache,  ...read more…
In recent years, my greatest fantasy would have been to spend the day talking music with my favorite singer in the world, Kurt Elling, while taking him to my favorite spot in the world, the underground tunnel that runs along the western wall of the Temple Mount in the Old  ...read more…
Kurt Elling's "The Gate" is his most provocative, hippest and coolest recording to date. Produced by the Grammy-winning Don Was, this nine-track set features the vocalist providing singing lessons (in terms of creative phrasing, astounding breath control, gorgeous tone, and the use of silence as a musical element) in the  ...read more…
Finding a CD featuring jazzy interpretations of King Crimson's 'Matte Kudasai', Joe Jackson's 'Stepping Out', and Stevie Wonder's 'Golden Lady', among others, should not, on the face of it, be too much to ask for. However, with the recording industry obsessed with labelling and pigeon-holes, demographics and focus groups, such  ...read more…
Grammy-winning vocalist Kurt Elling starts the Independent Arts Fest at Mercyhurst in style. In an interview with Jazz Times writer Nate Chinen, Kurt Elling defined a jazz singer as, "somebody who devotes their life to an art form that demands a spirit -- at least, a spirit -- of improvisation  ...read more…
During his 14-year recording career, vocalist Kurt Elling has received Grammy nominations for every CD he's released. Of course, he didn't actually win for any of his first seven mostly original efforts. But he finally collected a Best Jazz Vocal Album Grammy for the themed 2009 release Dedicated to You: Kurt  ...read more…
Part of the reason that master musician Kurt Elling tends to hog the best-of magazine polls, Grammy dealings, and generally sweep up accolades as jazz' greatest living male vocalist has to do with what he is not. Which is to say, unlike singers such as Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Buble,  ...read more…
When the best place to see jazz hosts the best jazz there is to see, it can feel like a celestial convergence, a planetary alignment that's as rare and beautiful as the northern lights. Kurt Elling came to the Lobero last week with a program largely rooted in songs from  ...read more…
Perhaps it's ironic: jazz wants to be free, yet boundaries abound. Nowhere has a boundary been more touchy or controversial than the line between jazz and rock. Miles Davis blurred it, trounced it, trod upon it, spat on it. And, in some circles, he was vilified; in others celebrated. Still  ...read more…
With the poise of a World War II-era crooner, the patois of a Beat poet and the searching gaze of seminary student, jazz vocalist Kurt Elling isn't likely to be confused for Mick Jagger any time soon. But for Don Was, who produced "The Gate," Elling's new album exploring contemporary  ...read more…
Before he won last year's jazz vocal album Grammy Award for "Dedicated to You: Kurt Elling Sings the Music of Coltrane and Hartman,” each of Elling's six previous albums had earned a nomination in that category. Rather than feeling like jazz's Susan Lucci, the Manhattan-based baritone took it in stride,  ...read more…
Kurt Elling, the handsome and deeply talented singer, has taken his role as the generally acknowledged king of living jazz male vocalists proudly, and not lightly. He might have, by now, dipped into breezier pop turf in search of lucre and mall culture cred, but instead, he has taken on  ...read more…
In the personnel list on his latest album, The Gate (Concord Music), his credit reads: "Kurt Elling—Voice.” It's an appropriate choice because Elling plays his voice the way an instrumentalist plays his ax. His instrument is pretty impressive: a top-of-the-line four-octave baritone. More impressive still is the technical assurance  ...read more…
It was through his father, a Kapellmeister at a local Lutheran church, that jazz maestro Kurt Elling was first introduced to music. In growing up in Rockford, Illinois, Elling embraced a range of musical instruments including playing the violin, French horn, piano, and drums while also singing in various choirs.  ...read more…
Kurt Elling is a jazz singer in the purest sense of the term. Like a Billy Eckstine or Sarah Vaughan, the jazz characteristics of Elling's art come from his singing more than his song selection. Like those two singers, Eckstine can improvise a vocal line, placing himself in rare company:  ...read more…
April 5th, 2011
With the world's greatest jazz voice, a sense of effortless cool and a wealth of celebrity fans, improv-king Kurt Elling's addiction to touring has - in spite of the genre's low record sales - seen him play his way on to the list of all-time legends. It was a warm,  ...read more…
This month's cover story for JazzTimes, re: singer Kurt Elling, has been excerpted online. There's way more insight behind the paywall, so if you like what you see, please go buy a copy, or swipe one from your neighbor. Meanwhile, I thought I'd expand on just one (major) aspect of  ...read more…
March 26th, 2011
As this issue [of JazzTimes] went to press, one of the big stories in the music world was that 26-year-old Esperanza Spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist, triumphing over such popular favorites as teen idol Justin Bieber and Canadian rapper Drake. Headlines everywhere called the victory an "upset,”  ...read more…
March 25th, 2011
Since debuting on Blue Note in 1995, Kurt Elling has earned a reputation as one of the preeminent jazz singers of our time. Now based in New York City, Elling details his ascent, responds to his detractors, and sets out to define the slippery parameters of vocal jazz. ••••• Kurt Elling probably  ...read more…
The first time we came across Kurt Elling was in June of 1997 during a guerrilla campaign of gigs in the Northeast over a six-week stretch. It was towards the end of that run and the singer was walking with crutches after a hiking mishap. His iconoclast reputation as a divinity  ...read more…
You don't have to be a jazz fan to appreciate Kurt Elling. In fact, when you look at the names of the artists whose works he's covered, jazz may not be the first thing that comes to mind. On The Gate, he turns to the music of The Beatles, Stevie  ...read more…
Better known as a stellar rock producer, Don Was talks to Peter Quinn about working with Elling "In all areas of music, the thing I hold at a premium is truth in the vocal -- not stylistically conscious, not technically conscious, but just delivering every line from the heart. When  ...read more…
Kurt Elling's unique approach to vocalese appeals to the master of the technique himself, Jon Hendricks -- as Edward Randell discovers One of the most distinctive aspects of Kurt Elling's work is his development of the style known as vocalese: the art of setting lyrics to recorded instrumental solos. Born  ...read more…
March 20th, 2011
It's one of the great what-ifs of jazz. Imagine, for a second, that in 1992 Kurt Elling hadn't ended up a language credit shy of gaining a Masters in Philosophy of Religion from the University of Chicago. The picture might have looked something like this (cue ripple dissolve): a book-lined study,  ...read more…
March 18th, 2011
Last Saturday night, one of Ottawa's biggest jazz fans took me aside at Cafe Paradiso -- we were there to see David Braid -- to voice his disappointment with Kurt Elling's latest CD, The Gate. I wasn't surprised. For that long-time jazz fan, Elling is unbeatable when he's engaged in  ...read more…
In less than a decade of UK appearances, the Chicago jazz vocalist Kurt Elling has ascended from intimate performances for a handful of people to the standing ovation he received at the Barbican. An imaginative bill partnered him with sublime French accordionist Richard Galliano and the powerful Scottish National Jazz  ...read more…
His voice is an instrument. A singer who has the poise and range of a saxophonist, Kurt Elling may not be a household name, yet he is at the top of the jazz tree right now. A decade and a half ago, when he was just beginning to take on  ...read more…
Kurt Elling is that rare jazz singer who really suits a venue like the Barbican: at Ronnie Scott's, where he played a residency last July, he seemed to be playing to a non-existent gallery. Despite his groundbreaking contributions to the vocalist's art, Elling is an old-school showman, with razor-sharp outfits,  ...read more…
The label "heir to Sinatra” is a heavy one for any singer, but Kurt Elling wears it with ease. He strolled on to the stage with his trio, casually elegant, surveyed us all with pleased surprise: "Oh my goshness, look at you all.” Then he launched into Joe Jackson's 'Stepping  ...read more…
March 15th, 2011
Kurt Elling's stage persona is an uneasy mix of cabaret MC and inveterate jazzer. His opening words – "Hello London. We're ready for you. Are you ready for us?” – sat oddly with drummer Ulysses Owens Jr's perfectly crisp foreshortened press roll introduction. Classy jazz was soon to follow, not least from  ...read more…
He's been topping male jazz-vocal polls for 15 years, so Kurt Elling fans must have been surprised to find numbers by Joe Jackson, King Crimson and The Beatles on his latest recording. Alarmed, too, to discover Don Was, producer of Bob Dylan and Rolling Stones albums, in the control booth. But  ...read more…
The pre-eminent jazz singer is a very generous man. An evening spent with him, his longtime musical partner, arranger and pianist Laurence Hopgood, and band would be a thoroughly satisfying one. For this date not only do we get Kurt in that setting for the first half, but also in  ...read more…
IN AN era when singers of many different backgrounds like to dabble with jazz and swing, real jazz singers remain at a premium. There are no doubts in the case of Chicago's Kurt Elling – and saxophonist Tommy Smith's assertion that he is the greatest jazz voice on the planet needs  ...read more…
Great performers, like great sportsmen, always seem to have more choices, and more time to make them. And in a team sport like jazz, there is an endless fascination in seeing the directions which performers individually and collectively choose to take. Like gladiators, they can choose how they will make  ...read more…
'A bourbon. Make it a double. Couple of cubes.” It's two in the morning, and the bar in Kurt Elling's Copenhagen hotel is staying open late just for us. Elling thanks the waiter for being so amenable, then he turns to me. "If only more people were like that,” he  ...read more…
It's not even close. Kurt Elling is far and away the boldest, most talented and consistent male jazz singer working today. Since his Blue Note debut in 1995, Close Your Eyes, Elling has presented a compelling case for the jazz vocal tradition. Elling combines the sonic richness of Sinatra, the beat  ...read more…
WHATEVER John Coltrane imagined his A Love Supreme suite inspiring – world peace would have been reasonable reward – he surely can't have considered someone arriving who could turn the melody and saxophone solo from that masterpiece's Resolution into a work of blistering vocal art that must be heard while its creator  ...read more…
With a Grammy award and eight other Grammy-nominated albums under his belt, Elling has now taken on the mantle of "world's greatest male jazz vocalist”. This new album shows he wears it with panache. There's something just so perfectly controlled and stylish about everything he does, whether it's Stevie Wonder's  ...read more…
March 10th, 2011
This pop-angled album from dazzling Chicago singer Elling, produced by Bonnie Raitt and Rolling Stones collaborator Don Was, features tracks like King Crimson's Matte Kudesai and Earth, Wind and Fire's After the Love Has Gone. But his improv ingenuity consistently sidesteps cliches, and The Gate is far from a bland  ...read more…
Jazz legends Kurt Elling and Tommy Smith talk psalms, improvisation and why 'you've got to evil it up.' "Man, if you gotta ask, you ain't never going to know," is the answer Louis Armstrong is said to have given when asked what jazz was. Almost 100 years later, in a  ...read more…
There's a lot more to vocal jazz improvisation than just making it up on the spot, as the master of the form, Kurt Elling, explains. 'Sometimes people have this notion that improvisation is simply intuitive leaping into the unknown," muses Kurt Elling, whom many regard as today's leading male jazz  ...read more…
Whenever I hear Kurt Elling, I'm reminded of firsts -- for instance, the first time I ate caviar, the first time I drank Campari, the first time I eyed a Wassily Kandinski painting. I'm talking here about acquired tastes but more than that, I'm referring to the shock of the  ...read more…
March 8th, 2011
Peerless is not a word to throw about, but applied to Kurt Elling it feels thoroughly accurate. Over the last few years, with the albums Nightmoves and Dedicated To You, he has moved from being a jazz singer to the jazz singer, to my ears and, if his increased popularity  ...read more…
The Gate sees Grammy-winning US vocalist Kurt Elling collaborating with rock producer Don Was and showing the same respect for Earth, Wind & Fire and Joe Jackson as he has previously for the poetry of Rumi and Rilke. As you'd expect from Kurt Elling, The Gate is an impeccably stylish album  ...read more…
Is the Chicago-born musician the greatest living jazz singer? He's back in Britain this month to bolster his case. Outside it's minus 14C; inside Oslo's Jazzscene club "the cats are cookin' ”. Not my words, but those of Kurt Elling as he introduces the Danish big band helping to swing the  ...read more…
On his latest recording, The Gate (Concord Jazz), perennial DownBeat poll winner and recent Grammy Award winner Kurt Elling invites the listener on a journey. That's standard patter for any artist intent on capturing, holding and increasing an audience, but from Elling the invitation is altogether something different. Something meaningful.  ...read more…
What the singer Kurt Elling says between songs, and what he writes in some of his lyrics, feels jokey and genial and on the edge of corny. They're the secondhand niceties of an older jazz culture. (Mr. Elling was born in 1967. Some of his lingo and patter was born around 1929.)  ...read more…
What is vocalese, anyway? Here's how Kurt Elling describes it, as heard on Jamie Cullum's radio program for BBC Radio 2. (The link will be live through March 8, 2011. Jamie introduces Kurt at around 19:50.) Vocalese is a subset of lyric writing and poetry that is unique to the jazz idiom. Vocalese is  ...read more…
Having finally won a Grammy award (after having been nominated on eight previous occasions) for Dedicated To You, anticipation is understandably high for Kurt Elling's new album. Whilst Dedicated To You had a concentrated thematic and musical focus, with Elling paying tribute to the famous collaboration between John Coltrane and  ...read more…
Not one to rest on his laurels, singer Kurt Elling's new release heads in an entirely different direction from Dedicated to You, his 2009 Grammy-winning tribute to the classic John Coltrane-Johnny Hartman album. The Gate - produced by rock legend Don Was, who has called Elling "the greatest singer I ever  ...read more…
Is there a better singer at work today than jazz vocalist Kurt Elling? With his elastic baritone voice and distinctive soul patch – that fine strip of beatnik hair beneath his lower lip – there's certainly no one quite like the Chicagoan hipster. Elling, who is about to release a new album  ...read more…
I didn't anticipate that Kurt Elling and his quartet would perform essentially the same sets on the second night of their Dakota stay as on their first. But they probably didn't anticipate that some people would attend all four sets. Elling gave me the heads-up about the setlists before the  ...read more…
February 15th, 2011
Elling's follow-up to 2009's Grammy jazz vocal album winner, Dedicated to You, is further proof that he is the best singer of his generation. With his resonant baritone and cool phrasings, Elling makes this eclectic batch of jazz standards and pop tunes his own. Producer Don Was and a stellar  ...read more…
Since the 1990s, Kurt Elling has proved a most innovative jazz singer. His recordings -- particularly The Messenger, Man in the Air, and Nightmoves -- also reveal him to be a modern jazz visionary. On The Gate, Elling presents nine songs gathered from rock, pop, soul, and jazz. Produced by  ...read more…
Kurt Elling's dark, velvet blazer exemplified his stage persona to a tee; both being stylish, lush and form-fitted for any event. When the renowned jazz vocalist took to the Old Town School concert stage, Friday evening, he faced his audience with a confident smile, acknowledged the balcony contingent and and  ...read more…
February 11th, 2011
Let's just put it out there: This dude is smooth. Yes, Kurt Elling's a jazz singer—and an exceptionally broad-minded one at that—and yes, this is a "jazz" record, but don't get caught up in the labels. This is one jazzist who knows and enjoys the virtues of subtlety  ...read more…
A blow-by-blow for Kurt Elling fans and others who plan to catch the band on their latest tour. (By "others,” I mean those who haven't yet seen Elling live, because once you do, you're a fan.) This tour is mostly about The Gate, the new CD produced by Don Was  ...read more…
There might not be a more creative jazz singer alive right now than Kurt Elling. He has the two crucial elements it takes to rise to the top of his world: a stellar voice driven by a fearlessness with what he does with it. Score the highest marks on both  ...read more…
It's only fitting that Kurt Elling will celebrate the arrival of his latest release, "The Gate," with two performances Sunday evening at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights. The last track on the album is "Nighttown, Lady Bright." The after-hours ballad is a reworking of "Nighttown" by the late pianist Don Grolnick,  ...read more…
February 9th, 2011
Kurt Elling was one credit shy of graduating from the University of Chicago Divinity School when he dropped everything to do what he loved. Now a renowned jazz vocalist, Elling had sung in choirs all through childhood. And he'd always had an affinity for jazz. "I remember some specific early  ...read more…
February 9th, 2011
No matter what the room, chances are Kurt Elling would be the coolest one in it. An unabashed hipster (in the pre-American Apparel sense of the word), the jazz vocalist's velvety, elastic baritone has a way of making itself comfortable in a wide range of genres, most recently with the  ...read more…
Every song jazz vocalist Kurt Elling hears is a potential addition to his kit-bag of covers. "I think you can't avoid that as an artist," said the Chicago-based singer who is about to release The Gate, maybe his most freewheeling set of covers. It's mostly pop material from King Crimson  ...read more…
For years, jazz singer Kurt Elling has been winning praise for his vocalese work — that is, the writing and singing of lyrics over improvised jazz solos. Elling has set his own lyrics to the improvised solos of jazz giants like Wayne Shorter, Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. He's also won  ...read more…
You know it's a jazz musician talking when he says, sure, he'll be doing selections from his new CD on this promotional tour — but the CD tracks will just serve as suggestions for the live gig. "Every night we're trying to find something new in the music. That's what jazz  ...read more…
The successor to a Grammy winner is eagerly awaited, then examined under a high-powered microscope. Will it be as good? Will it be better? Will it be a letdown? Fans of jazz singer Kurt Elling who have waited a year and a half for the follow-up to 2009's Dedicated to  ...read more…
Mike Ragogna: Let's talk about your Don Was-produced album The Gate. It covers a lot of territory, what was the process like putting it together? Kurt Elling: I had a number of compositions in mind that I wanted to get to. Don approached me a couple of years ago about  ...read more…