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 Crosstown Classic (Cubs v. Sox) at Wrigley Field: hometown GRAMMYÂ®-winning vocalist Kurt Elling will sing the national anthem, as well as conduct the seventh-inning stretch rendition of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame.â€
Game time is 1:20 PM; Elling will not throw out the first pitch, and seems pretty relieved about it, too. "Singing is plenty,â€ he explained by e-mail.
Whatever the score of the game, the real suspense should come just after the stretch, when Elling will stick around to be interviewed by the Cubs' TV team of Len Kasper and Bob Brenley. While the two sportscasters both allude to music on a fairly regular basis, they're solidly rooted in rock-and-roll (and not especially edgy rock at that); there's nothing about them to suggest they've even heard of jazz. Count on Elling's well-documented good humor to carry the day.
Meanwhile, the club that launched Elling's national career is also in the news this week. The Green Mill â€“ "the Pearl of Uptownâ€ at 4802 N. Broadway â€“ has been selected by Esquire as one of the "15 Bars Every Man Should Drink In Before He Dies.â€
While I can't condone the fatalism of the conceit â€“ before we die, fercrissake? Don't we have enough to worry about? â€“ I heartily concur with the choice. Esquire went with the Capone angle; I'll go with the Pappy Van Winkle, thank you, along with this weekend's CD-release event featuring tenor saxist Frank Catalano and his sextet.