For his Café Carlyle debut performance, vocalist Kurt Elling celebrates Frank Sinatra's centennial with "Elling Swings Sinatra." Backed by a wonderful band, maybe the largest I've ever seen work this room, featuring Clark Sommers on bass, arranger John McLean on guitar, Jared Schonig on drums, Wayne Tucker on trumpet, Troy Roberts on tenor sax, and Gary Versace on piano, Elling swings his way through such familiar hits as "Come Fly with Me," "In the Still of the Night," and "Nice & Easy," sprinkling the lyrics with scat, the songs with useful information. "Frank Sinatra is the #5 top selling jazz vocalist of all time," he informs the attentive crowd, quipping, "Do you know how depressing that is for me?" He performs a dozen great songs, but avoids one: "Who else can sing "My Way" but Frank Sinatra?
Kurt Elling also quotes writer Gay Talese from his 1966 Esquire piece, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," considered one of the best magazine profiles ever written, and focused on his comeback at Jilly's Saloon, where a chair in the back was reserved just for him. For his encore, the band files out and Kurt Elling sings "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning" accompanied only by Gary Versace on piano, an elegant way to end his fine tribute.